Newsletter for the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour - Issue No.: 938 Issue Date: 22 Nov, 2020

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David Fisher Laurie Glossop and Peter Batsok

THE SO4 COMPANY= WA’s FIRST POTASH AS SULPHATE PROJECT

All of these projects are situated in the northern interior of WA where they can extract Potassium Sulphate K2SO4, commonly known as SOP, potash from evaporating salt lake and paleo-channel brines.

SO4’s LakeWay development near Wiluna has a high-grade SOP probable ore reserve of 5.4 Mt of SOP, plus a drainable SOP mineral resource estimate of 11.4 Mt, giving it a projected 20 year mine life. The company announced in July 2020 that the project is on track for first production in Q1 2021.

SOP, is the second major form of potash. It consists of 50% K2O and 17.5% S. It is particularly effective in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, berries, potatoes, beans, cocoa, tobacco and tree nuts. SOP contains less than 1% chloride, but importantly does contain sulphur which is a secondary macronutrient utilised by the plant for growth. Sulphur deficient soils are a growing problem within the agriculture sector. SOP has a total global market size of approximately 6 million tonnes per annum.

David’s illustrated talk was largely based upon recent announcements from SO4 and key web links are:

https://www.so4.com.au/company-reports/

And https://www.investi.com.au/api/announcements/so4/fe1c7b73-7ac.pdf

And_https://www.investi.com.au/api/announcements/so4/cea59e7f-660.pdf

https://www.investi.com.au/api/announcements/so4/bd988626-590.pdf

 

Key points are:-

 

The Lakeway development is on schedule with infrastructure facilities nearing completion.

The initial evaporation ponds and brine trenches are complete.

Power generation will come mainly from the Goldfields gas line and process water from the local palaeochannel bore fields.

The extraction process is scaled up from a workable laboratory process. It involves separating halite and magnesium salts. 

80 % of production has been sold into off take agreements with European buyers who prefer a clean green source of Potash. Other extraction methods involve using sulphuric acid.Most of the SOP we get in Australia is imported from where the sulphuric acid process is used. In 2019 it costs approximately US$400 – US$450/t to produce SOP using that process, so by the time we pay for freight and logistics to get it into our country, it's prohibitively expensive for most farmers to use.

The economic parameters for Lake way are shown as producing 245 ktpa SOP, Capex $264M, $111M EBITDA, $111M Free cash flow and Payback 3.6 years. Based on the Definitive Bankable Feasibility and assuming US$ 550/tonne SOP price (FOB Geraldton)

SO4 will have a significantly beneficial socioeconomic impact on the Wiluna community.

Club Member Dr David Fisher gave us an insightful talk about the SO4:ASX company’s WA Potash project. David is directly involved in the establishment of the Project

SO4 Company is the most advanced of six potash developers in Western Australia. These are new ventures requiring considerable ingenuity to upscale laboratory processes to full scale operations

 

Author: Marcus Harris

Published: 3 November, 2020

 


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