Salt Lake Potash on track with BFS as first evaporation ponds completed

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Salt Lake Potash Ltd (LON:SO4) has completed construction of its first two commercial-scale evaporation ponds and has begun pumping of sulphate of potash (SOP) brine.

Reporting on the few months of its financial year, the AIM-listed outfit said the initial ponds at its Lake Way project, along with piping and pumping infrastructure, were completed in June and a 2km trench to the nearby Williamson Pit mine was completed in July.

WATCH: Salt Lake Potash to begin BFS at Lake Way SOP project

The ‘de-watering’ process of the SOP from the mine is expected to be finished during the second half of the calendar year to ensure the evaporation process is underway during the summer months, which will provide initial salts for the process plant. 

SOP is a premium source of potassium fertiliser for chloride intolerant crops.

Salt Lake, which owns rights over eight other lakes in Western Australia, expects to complete the bankable feasibility study for Lake Way in the third quarter to support project financing and said plant commissioning is expected by the end of 2020.

A scoping study in the quarter indicated a mine life of 20 years for Lake Way, producing an estimated 200,000 tonnes per year of SOP at one of the lowest operating cost in the sector of A$264 per tonne.

Directors, having drummed up AU$27.5mln from placings in recent months, are also in “advanced discussions” to secure a debt funding package aimed at supporting further funding, with Lake Way expected to need A$237mln of development capital requirements.

A Native Title Mining Agreement to provide consent to the grant of SLP’s mining lease and for the ongoing mining operation is expected to be signed “in the coming months”.

Broker Shore Capital noted that Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency has decided that a formal assessment is not required for SLP’s initial on- and off-lake works and that the company expects to receive approval of its related mining proposal and closure plan from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety during the second half of 2019.