We are the largest producer of muriate of potash (MOP, or potassium chloride) in the U.S. and are dedicated to the production and marketing of potash and langbeinite (sulfate of potash magnesia), another mineral containing potassium. Potassium is one of the three nutrients essential to plant formation and growth. Since 2004, we have supplied, on average, 1.5% of world potash consumption and 8.5% of U.S. consumption annually, and we have supplied a considerably higher proportion of the potash consumed in the southwestern and western U.S., our core markets. We are one of two exporting producers in the world of langbeinite, a low-chloride fertilizer that is better suited than MOP for chloride-sensitive crops. We also produce salt, magnesium chloride and metal recovery salts from our potash mining processes. We own five active potash production facilities—three in New Mexico and two in Utah—and we have the nameplate capacity to produce 1,200,000 tons of potash and 250,000 tons of langbeinite annually. For the nine-month period ended September 30, 2007, we sold approximately 679,000 tons of potash and approximately 132,000 tons of langbeinite, an increase of 31% and 91%, respectively, over the comparable period in 2006.
We own two development assets in New Mexico—the HB Mine, which is an idled potash mine that we are in the process of reopening as a solution mine, and the North Mine. We expect that the expansion opportunities at our operating facilities and the HB Mine will increase production by an aggregate of over 370,000 tons of potash and langbeinite annually over the next five to seven years.
Our principal assets include:
Two conventional, underground potash mines in Carlsbad, New Mexico—the West Mine and the East Mine—and the North Facility compaction plant. The West Mine has the nameplate capacity to produce 510,000 tons of potash annually. Potash from our West Mine is processed at our North Facility compaction plant. The East Mine produces two products, with the nameplate capacity to produce 390,000 tons of potash and 250,000 tons of langbeinite annually. The East Mine mill is a dual potash and langbeinite facility that uses a first-of-its-kind milling process.
Two potash facilities in Utah—the Moab Mine and the Wendover Facility. The Moab Mine uses solution mining methods to extract potash and has the nameplate capacity to produce 180,000 tons of potash annually. The Wendover Facility collects potash from natural brines and has the nameplate capacity to produce 120,000 tons of potash annually. Both of these facilities use low-cost solar evaporation to recover potash.
Two development assets in Carlsbad, New Mexico—the HB Mine and the North Mine. The HB Mine is an idled potash mine that we are in the process of reopening as a solution mine. We expect to commence Phase I of the project in 2008, with production beginning in 2009. We believe Phase I has the potential to ultimately add up to 150,000 to 200,000 tons of additional low-cost potash production annually by 2011. The North Mine is another idled underground potash mine that we may choose to reopen in the future and that already has in place mine shafts and much of the transportation and utility infrastructure required for operation.
Intrepid Mining was formed in January 2000 for the purpose of acquiring the Moab Mine from PCS. The Moab Mine was a solution mine which had experienced sustained declining production. Our management team stabilized production volumes at nearly twice the pre-acquisition level by applying horizontal drilling technology that is commonly used in the oil and gas industry but had never before been used to mine potash.
We observed that potash from Moab shared markets with potash produced in Carlsbad, New Mexico and in Wendover, Utah. Accordingly, we formulated a strategy to acquire assets in those areas in order to consolidate marketing efforts and effect operating synergies. We acquired the assets of Mississippi Potash, Inc. and Eddy Potash, Inc. in Carlsbad, New Mexico from Mississippi Chemical Company in February 2004. In April 2004, we acquired the potash assets of Reilly Chemical, Inc. in Wendover, Utah.
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