Special Report: Salt Lake Potash (ASX:SO4) has laid the foundation to rapidly expand production at its Lake Way potash project in Western Australia with the release of a substantial mineral resource for the whole of the lake.

The Ian Middlemas-chaired company, one of several listed groups pioneering the development of a potash export industry in Western Australia, published a maiden mineral resource for Lake Way as part of the scoping study completed on the project in July 2018.

That announcement gave a sense of the quality of sulphate of potash (SOP) brine at Lake Way – it detailed an indicated resource of 1.9 million tonnes grading 15.4kg per cubic metre of potassium sulphate and a measured resource of 32,000 tonnes at 25.5kg per cubic metre of potassium sulphate from the Williamson Pit.

The Williamson Pit resource is the highest-grade SOP resource in Australia.

Following the release of the updated mineral resource for Lake Way on Monday, there is now a better sense as to the scale of production the project might ultimately support.

Whereas the maiden resource took in only the playa area within the Lake Way tenements controlled by gold miner Blackham Resources, the updated resource includes the additional lake playa and paleochannel from Salt Lake Potash’s own tenements.

The paleochannel Salt Lake Potash has defined runs for in excess of 30km along the eastern boundary of Lake Way, providing another potential source of brine.

Bore test pumping at Lake Way (Supplied)

Based on total porosity, the Lake Way resource now stands at 73 million tonnes of SOP and includes:

  • A measured resource of 6.9 million tonnes at 15.4kg/m 3 from the Lake Way playa;
  • A measured resource of 32,000 tonnes at 25.5kg/m 3 from the Williamson Pit;
  • An indicated resource of 3.7 million tonnes at 13.6kg/m 3 from the paleochannel; and
  • An inferred resource of 62 million tonnes at 15.2kg/m 3 from the Lake Way playa and paleovalley sediment.

Based on drainable porosity, the resource stands at 8.2 million tonnes of SOP.

Salt Lake Potash managing director Tony Swiericzuk said: “It is extremely pleasing to present the Lake Way Mineral Resource Estimate for the ‘whole of lake’ that confirms the significant size and very high-grade resource at Lake Way.

“It reinforces our current review process to consider a larger scale scenario at Lake Way and we anticipate releasing the technical results of the larger scale scenario towards the end of Q2 2019.”

Test trench at Lake Way (Supplied)

The scoping study completed by the company last year envisaged the development of a 50,000 tonne per annum demonstration plant as a means of verifying the technical and
commercial viability of the project.

SOP, a preferred choice of high-quality potassium fertiliser, is not currently produced in any quantity in Australia, but represents a significant global market with an annual value of US$3.5 billion.

Salt Lake Potash announced at the start of March that construction had begun on the country’s first commercial scale SOP evaporation ponds at Lake Way.

The first phase will enable dewatering of the Williamson Pit, with the utilisation of that enriched brine assisting to accelerate the company’s path to first production.

This story was developed in collaboration with Salt Lake Potash, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
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