Potash mine could use 725M gallons of water a year

Associated Press

Hersey – Plans indicate that a Michigan potash mine could use more than 725 million gallons of groundwater each year.

State regulators approved Michigan Potash Co. LLC’s request to use almost 2 million gallons of water a day at the proposed site in the Osceola County wetland complex.

Potash is a potassium-rich salt commodity that’s used as crop fertilizer. The mine would create a hot brine with the water to dissolve potash underground. The waste brine would then be injected deep underground after it’s brought to the surface and separated.

The $700 million mining project would recycle large quantities of water and strive to use less than what it’s been allotted, said CEO Theodore Pagano.

Pagano is in the final permitting stages for the project, which began in 2013.

The state is holding a hearing March 12 on the mine’s application for wastewater disposal injection wells, MLive.com reported .

“We’ve only really had a handful of comments,” said Mark Snow, a permit supervisor with the state Department of Environmental Quality’s oil, gas and minerals division. “I say less than six. About half are in support and half that have concerns.”

The public comment deadline is March 19.

The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation is concerned that injecting the sulfide brine could contaminate aquifers that local homeowners use for drinking water. The group is also concerned that the amount of water the company will be taking will hurt the Muskegon River watershed.

The Evart Local Development Finance Authority supports the project.

“If this group is successful in developing their project, the opportunity for business development in this town and other surrounding towns will have large potential impact,” said board member Bob Barnes.

Executive Vice President of Production Al Millward told the Cadillac News that the project could create about 150 permanent on-site jobs, which could increase to 300 as the facility grows.