LIGNITE A company drilling an exploratory well for potash in northern Burke County has nearly completed the work.
Denver-based Dakota Salts LLC, a subsidiary of Sirius Minerals Plc., began drilling the well last month near Lignite. The site is along U.S. Highway 52 and near Lignite.
Sirius is a potash mining group based in London.
This is a closeup of the potash exploration rig currently drilling near Lignite in Burke County, courtesy of Sirius Minerals Plc.
"The coring should be completed by the end of next week," J.T. Starzecki, of Minneapolis, senior director of North American Operations for Sirius, told The Minot Daily News, Tuesday.
Dakota Salts was issued a permit for the test well in August. It was the first exploratory drilling permit issued in North Dakota for potash in more than 30 years.
"Potash is one of three main ingredients in fertilizer, which is the main use of the product," Starzecki said.
The company has acquired about 8,500 private mineral acres in Burke County, said Starzecki. He said the company is continuing its acquisition of leases in Burke County, basically in the Lignite and Portal areas. Portal, on the North Dakota/Saskatchewan border, is about seven miles north of Lignite. He said Dakota Salts also has leased "just shy" of 400 acres from the state.
Burke County is the only county where the leasing is being done, Starzecki said.
"Dakota Salts is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sirius Minerals Plc. which is listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange and is funded by Sirius Minerals. Sirius Minerals, in turn, is funded by institutional and prival investors. Sirius has also signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with a major Chinese fertilizer company to develop one of its projects in Australia," said Toby Hall, a spokesman for Sirius in the United Kingdom.
According to Sirius information, the program in Burke County is being carried out by Schlumberger Water Services USA Inc. and North Rim Exploration Ltd.
Starzecki said the coring is taking place between 8,600 to 8,900 feet.
The drill core will be sent to North Rim Exploration's core facility in Saskatoon, Sask., for detailed core descriptions and geochemical sample selections. The samples will then be sent to and analyzed at the Saskatchewan Research Council laboratory in Saskatoon, according to Sirius.
The drilling, core logging and analysis is expected to take about two months to complete. The information will provide more details to make recommendations on the further exploration and development in North Dakota.
Schlumberger Water Services is a globally-operating company and North Rim Exploration Ltd., is a Saskatoon-based firm.
Sirius Minerals acquired Dakota Salts in 2008. The company has been involved with North Dakota since about mid-2009.
Dakota Salts also received a $225,000 grant from the North Dakota Industrial Commission's Renewable Energy Program to study using solution-mined salt caverns on its properties for compressed air energy storage and as potential natural gas storage from various nearby pipelines.
The grant was made in conjunction with Electric Power and Research Institute, Schlumberger Limited and Tetra Tech. The Electric Power and Research Institute is a leading authority on compressed air energy storage. Schlumberg is one of the foremost experts in subsurface characterization; and Tetra Tech is a recognized authority in subsurface storage permitting and environmental impact, according to the Sirius Web site information.
"Forty percent of the world's potash comes from Canada 33 percent of that is from the Williston Basin, which is what we are drilling (in) Burke County," Starzecki said.
Of the potash using and producing countries, he said the United States uses 20 percent of the potash and produces less than 2 percent.
"Burke County is really where the opportunity exists in North Dakota," he said.