May 162012

Map courtesy of Passport Potash -- Acquiring the Fitzgerald Ranch east of Twin Buttes Ranch would give Passport Potash 70,000 acres of contiguous, royalty free private land.

By Teri Walker —

Passport Potash has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire the Fitzgerald Ranch east of Holbrook for $15 million, which would bring the company’s total land holdings in the Holbrook Basin to 122,000 acres.

The potash exploration and mining company entered into a letter of intent to purchase the 41,000-acre private ranch in August 2011, but hadn’t moved on the sale for several months.

Of Monday’s announcement, Passport President Joshua Bleak said, “This purchase has become an impor-tant part of our strategy as it ties together our state and private sections. Our contiguous land positions, with intact surface and mineral rights, give us an advantage over other groups working in the Holbrook Basin.”

There are no royalty arrangements attached to the land sale, so Passport would have unrestricted owner-ship of both the land and minerals underlying it.

The ranch is adjacent to the Twin Buttes Ranch and would give Passport about 70,000 acres of contiguous land for its potash mining operations. Potash is a mineral most commonly used in fertilizer production.

The ranch ties together Passport’s land package, providing access to land holdings south of Highway 180 and private lands held by the Hopi Tribe. It also gives the junior mining company additional BNSF railway frontage along the northern boundary of the property, in addition to 13 miles of frontage along Highway 180.

Passport is soliciting investors to fund the Fitzgerald Ranch purchase and is considering various financing options.

The terms of the agreement call for payment of approximately $360 per acre, with deposits and down payments totaling $475,000.

The closing date for the sale is Dec. 18, 2012, and the sellers have agreed to let Passport begin exploration of the property while the sale is in escrow.