Mar 162011

Photo courtesy of the Arizona Geological Survey This map shows the contours of the estimated thickness of the potash-bearing layers in the subsurface of the Holbrook Basin. The western border of the potash location is approximately 12 miles east of Holbrook.


By Linda Kor —

Potash mining has become a hot topic in the area with the promise of new industry, jobs and an economic boon during difficult economic times.

The excitement began after a 2008 report by the Arizona Geological Survey outlined the potash potential in the Holbrook Basin, which is believed to contain 682 million to 2.27 billion tonnes of potash. The news got the attention of potash producers, who began vying for the opportunity to explore the potential of the basin.

In the forefront of exploration of the area was Canadian based Passport Potash, which has now acquired land holdings totaling more than 70,000 acres in the basin, and has nearly completed a seismic survey to de-termine the depths of the potash in that area. The company has been very public about its endeavors, recently appearing on Bloomberg Report, providing press releases as they progress and holding public meetings at the drill site. But apparently Passport is not the only company that has made a large investment in the area.

According to the Arizona Oil and Gas Conservation, there are now 38 core holes permitted in the Holbrook Basin. While Passport Potash holds the permits to 19 of those holes, HNZ Potash, also known as HNZ Holding, LLC, a joint venture of Hunt Oil and NZ Legacy Resources, holds the other 19 permits.

Efforts to contact the company have gone without response, but according to its website, HNZ Potash is the largest private owner of the Holbrook Basin deposit with a reported land position of 74,000 acres. The site also notes that approximately 50 percent of the recoverable potash controlled by private ownership is under the firm’s control. The HNZ permits are located to the southeast of Petrified Forest National Park lands.