Goldfields Salt Lakes Project

Salt Lake Potash is developing the Goldfields Salt Lakes Project, which we plan to be the most sustainable, most rewarding fertiliser project in the world. An initial 50,000tpa Demonstration Plant will provide the template for a very large scale, very long life and very economic project across a number of salt lakes, delivering premium, organic nutrients to the world’s farmers.

The Company plans to produce the premium product Sulphate of Potash (SOP) from extracting hypersaline brine from salt lakes, transporting the brine in a series of solar evaporation ponds to produce potassium-rich harvest salts which can then easily be converted in SOP for the domestic and international markets.

SOP is the premium source of potassium (macro-nutrient) favoured by high value, chloride intolerant crops.

The Company’s long term plan is to develop an integrated SOP operation, producing from a number (or all) of the lakes within the GSLP, after confirming the technical and commercial elements of the Project through construction and operation of a Demonstration Plant producing up to 50,000tpa of SOP.

Salt Lake Potash will progressively explore the lakes in the portfolio with a view to estimating resources for each Lake, in parallel with the development of the Demonstration Plant. Exploration of the lakes will be prioritised based on likely transport costs, scale, permitting pathway and brine chemistry.

Lake Ballard
Lake Barlee
Lake Irwin
Lake Marmion
Lake Minigwal
Lake Noondie
Lake Raeside
Lake Way
Lake Wells

Global Potential

The nine salt lakes that make up the GSLP comprise a globally significant Project in the SOP sector, potentially sustaining one of the world’s largest SOP production operations for many decades.

Large Scale

The lakes in the GSLP were selected for scale, potential brine volume, known hypersaline brine characteristics, and the potential for production from both shallow trenches and deeper paleochannel aquifer bores. Each has a large surface area, a flat and bare surface playa and proximity to the important transport and energy infrastructure and engineering expertise available in the Western Australian Goldfields.
Figure 3: Lake Way Tenement Holdings
Figure 3: Lake Way Tenement Holdings

Lake Way

Lake Way is located in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, less than 15km south of Wiluna. The surface area of the Lake is over 270km².

The Wiluna region is an historic mining precinct dating back to the late 19th century. It has been a prolific nickel and gold mining region and therefore has well developed, high quality infrastructure in place.

The Goldfields Highway is a high quality sealed road permitted to carry quad road trains and passes 2km from the Lake. The Goldfields Gas Pipeline is adjacent to SLP’s tenements, running past the eastern side of the Lake.

SLP has entered an MOU with Blackham to investigate the development of an SOP operation on Blackham’s existing Mining Leases at Lake Way, including initially a 50,000tpa Demonstration Plant (see announcement dated 12 March 2018).

Lake Way has some compelling advantages which make it potentially an ideal site for an SOP operation, including:

  • Substantial likely capital and operating savings from sharing overheads and infrastructure with the Wiluna Gold Mine, including the accommodation camp, flights, power, maintenance, infrastructure and other costs.
  • The site has an excellent freight solution, adjacent to the Goldfields Highway, which is permitted for heavy haulage 4 trailer road trains to the railhead at Leonora.
  • A Demonstration Plant would likely be built on Blackham’s existing Mining Licences, already subject of a Native Title Agreement.
  • SLP would dewater the existing Williamson Pit on Lake Way, prior to Blackham mining, planned for early 2019. The pit contains an estimated 1.2GL of brine at the exceptional grade of 25kg/m3 of SOP. This brine is potentially the ideal starter feed for evaporation ponds, having already evaporated from the normal Lake Way brine grade, which averages over 14kg/m3.
  • The high grade brines at Lake Way will result in lower capital and operating costs due to lower extraction and evaporation requirements.
  • There would be substantial savings to both parties from co-operating on exploration activities on each other’s ground.
  • The presence of clays in the upper levels of the lake which should be amenable to low cost, on-lake evaporation pond construction.

SLP will complete a Scoping Study for a potential SOP operation at Lake Way, including a Demonstration Plant, by mid-2018, in time to allow a decision on dewatering the Williamson Pit. There is substantial historical data available for Lake Way and, along with the extensive, high quality technical work undertaken at SLP’s other lakes, which has substantial application at Lake Way, a Scoping Study can be undertaken in a much shorter timeframe than would normally be the case.

Lake Wells

The Lake Wells Project is located in the Northern Goldfields of Western Australia approximately 200 km north of Laverton. The area is well served by existing infrastructure, including the Great Central Road, the Goldfields Highway, the Goldfields Gas Pipeline and the railway sidings at Malcolm and Leonora.

Salt Lake has undertaken extensive drilling, sampling and geophysical surveys at Lake Wells since acquisition in mid-2015, to understand the geological setting and define brine resources within the Lake Wells Playa.

Salt Lake completed a positive Scoping Study at Lake Wells which confirmed the potential of the Project to produce low cost SOP by solar evaporation of lake brines for domestic and international fertiliser markets.

Based on the positive results of the Scoping Study, the Company will commence a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) immediately. During the PFS phase, the Company will undertake more detailed hydrological modelling, brine extraction optimisation and further infrastructure assessment aimed at identifying opportunities to enhance the Project economics through capital and operating cost reductions.

Exploration activities including drilling, test pumping and other testwork are already underway, to upgrade the resource classification and increase the overall resource base. The targeted outcomes include an improved hydrogeological understanding of the performance of basal sand (deep bores) bores including draw down rates, productivity rates and bore positions as well as improved understanding of the potential productivity of the fractured siltstone aquifer.

Scoping Study

A Scoping Study (accuracy ±30%) was completed by global engineering firm, Amec Foster Wheeler, and other international experts, demonstrating excellent project fundamentals based on well-established solar evaporation and salt processing techniques. Based on the positive results of the Scoping Study, the Company has commenced a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS). (see announcement dated 29 August 2016 for full details of the Scoping Study).

Lake Wells has the potential to be one of only five large scale salt lake SOP producers around the world and the Project’s estimated cash production costs of A$185 per tonne (Stage 2) would be amongst the lowest in the world.

The Project will produce SOP from hypersaline brine extracted from Lake Wells via trenches and a combination of shallow and deep production bores. The extracted brine will be transported to a series of solar evaporation ponds built on the La ke where selective evapo-concentration will precipitate potassium double salts in the final evaporation stage. These potassium-rich salts will be mechanically harvested and processed into SOP in a crystallisation plant. The final product will then be transported for sale to the domestic and international markets.

The Scoping Study is based on a two stage development plan for Lake Wells:

  • Stage 1 is based on shallow trenching and bore production with 100% of brine feed drawn from the near surface Measured Resource.
  • Stage 2 also includes pumping additional brine from the deeper Inferred Resource, to increase production to 400,000 tpa of SOP.

The Scoping Study utilises the Project’s Mineral Resource Estimate of 80-85 Mt of SOP in 9,691 GL of brine at an average of 8.7 kg/m3 of K2SO4. The Mineral Resource Estimate includes Measured and Indicated Resources of 26 Mt of SOP in the shallowest 20m of the Lake.

The Study has established the indicative costs of a two stage production operation, initially producing 200,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) and then 400,000 tpa of dried organic SOP. Stage 1 produces 200,000 tpa but includes most of the capital works required for a 400,000 tpa operation. Stage 2 will commence after initial capex is repaid by cashflow generated from the shallow Measured and Indicated Resource.

The Scoping Study results highlight the benefits of Lake Wells’ location in the Northern Goldfields, with excellent access to gas and transportation infrastructure. Total Capex of A$268 million for 400,000 tpa of SOP is amongst the lowest capital intensity of any proposed potash project worldwide.

Opportunities have been identified to further optimise capital and operating costs through equipment lease financing, further operational refinements and partnerships. The Company will also continue to investigate potential additional revenue streams for the project.

For the full Scoping Study Announcement click here.

Competent Persons Statement, Disclosures and Disclaimers click here

Mineral Resource

The Lake Wells Mineral Resource was estimated by Groundwater Science Pty Ltd, an independent hydrogeological consultant with substantial salt lake brine expertise, and is reported in accordance with the JORC Code 2012. The resource estimate is based on 32 shallow auger holes averaging 16m deep and 27 aircore holes averaging 63m deep.

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