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Potash Development Proposals Adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands National Park

November 22, 2013
by John Weisheit

Potash ponds below Dead Horse State Park
Potash ponds below Dead Horse State Park


New information: The federal lease to American Potash and K20 Potash for exploratory drilling has expired for lack of payment.


New Information: Pinnacle Potash is seeking the option to lease surface water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which will require a federal water contract with the Department of Interior. This will require an environmental assessment and consultation with US Fish and Wildlife and other federal agencies.


Underneath the heart of the Canyonlands Province is a huge 300 million-year-old reserve of gypsum, salt and potash. The result of a coastal basin repeatively filling with sea water that evaporated away, until the basin was completely filled with seawater precipitates, and then subsequently buried by additional layers of sedimentary deposits in the thousands of feet. 

Since 1963, and 20 miles downstream of Moab along the Colorado River, various potash companies (now Intrepid Potash) have been extracting potash and salt for fertilizer and other industrial purposes. At first the salty minerals were mined by workers underground until a methane explosion killed 18 workers. Thereafter, the chosen extraction method was to inject Colorado River water into the horizontal layers to dissolve the salts into a solution, which are then pumped into surface ponds so that the liquid brine will evaporate, and then the salt crystals are harvested and packaged for transport via trucks and railroad cars. The total annual water consumption of this existing potash facility is estimated to be about 3,300 acre-feet.

In 1963, surplus water in the Colorado River was available--but no longer. Because the price of Potash (potassium chloride), speculative mining companies are stacking up. Currently three companies are preparing applications and commencing drilling to determine the feasibility of the ore bodies for development. That part is easy--how they will acquire the water is an entirely different matter. Other impediments include permits for roads, pipelines to deliver natural gas and transmission lines to supply electricity.

The three companies are K2O Potash; Pinnacle Potash; and American Potash. Below is the administrative record of these three companies:


Comment period closed on November 30, 2012 for an Environmental Assessment to commence exploratory drilling in the Hatch Point area of the Canyon Rims Recreation Area, and east of Canyonlands National Park.

The Moab Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management seeks public comment on an Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing the potential impacts of exploratory drilling for potash-a powdery salt commonly used in fertilizers.

Under the proposal, K2O Utah LLC, would drill four exploratory core holes in the Hatch Point/Canyon Rims area of San Juan County. The proposed action would disturb approximately 39 acres.

The proposed action and maps may also be viewed on the Internet at: https://www.blm.gov/ut/enbb/index.php

Send written comments to:
Bureau of Land Management
Moab Field Office
82 East Dogwood
Moab, UT 84532
Phone: (435) 259-2100
Written comments may also be submitted via email to:
K2O, Inc. (Potash Minerals  Limited)



 New Information

Summary: The groundwater extraction yield has been reduced from 20,000 acre-feet to 5,000 acre-feet and a rigorous groundwater management plan must be adhered to. In the meantime, Pinnacle Potash is attempting to procure water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir via a Change Application with Daggett County for 8,000 acre-feet. The point of diversion would be along the Green River in Grand County (near Elgin) and the pipeline would basically follow the railroad tracks to Crescent Junction.


Pinnacle Potash of Austin, Texas has submitted an application for the withdrawl of 20,000 acre-feet annually for a period of 30 years (600,000 acre-feet total) to commence solution mining for potash north of Arches National Park.

To keep up to date on this issue, please visit this web site at the Utah Division of Water Rights. The water right number is 92-674 (A79183).

For information on the proposed change application from Daggett County to Grand County (8,000 acre-feet), please visit this web site at the DiVision of Water Rights. This water right is 41-3687; (A30414bb). If acquired, this water would be used by Pinnacle Potash for solution mining near Crescent Junction along Highway 191 and directly above Arches National Park.

The first hearing occurred on May 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm at the County Council Chambers in Moab, Utah.

The Dagget County change application hearing is scheduled for September 26, 2013 at Green River City Hall at 11:00 am.

To get involved, please call John Weisheit for assistance at 435-259-1063.

Additional information

Denied: Water right application for potash exploration near Canyonlands Field Airport (Bob Norman)


AMERICAN POTASH(Green River Project)

Comments were due on Monday March 4th, 2013; close of business day (4:30 pm).

Send written comments to:

Bureau of Land Management
Moab Field Office
82 East Dogwood
Moab, UT 84532
Phone: (435) 259-2100
Written comments may also be submitted via email to:

American Potash proposes to drill four exploration core hole locations to assess potash resources in the pring Canyon Point are of Grand County. Access to rill locations would be along designated routes. Proposed drill pads would be 400 feet x 400 feet in ize and an estimated 645 feet at 15 feet wide of new oad construction is proposed to access the pads. Total estimated surface disturbance is about 15 acres. BLM is still waiting for information on mprovements to designated routes that would increase
the acreage for surface disturbance. The exploration work is proposed to begin in Spring 2013 and end in the fall of 2013.

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