By Nick Worth
Officials of Passport Potash Inc. announced last week they have completed the first phase of their drilling program on lands owned by the Hopi Tribe. The company reached an agreement with the Hopi Tribe to explore for potash resources on 13,000 acres of the tribe’s land, which is “checker-boarded” with Passport’s own 121,000-plus acres of Holbrook Basin property.
According to Passport officials, a total of eight holes were drilled in the first phase of exploration on the Hopi lands. The results of the first three holes were included in the company’s Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA), which was reported on March 13 of this year.
As of April 25, the remaining five holes have been drilled and cored. The samples were sent to SRC Laboratories in Saskatchewan, Canada, for analysis. The company noted the drill samples are believed to represent true thicknesses of the potash deposits as the wells were drilled vertically and the deposits are generally flat lying.
In the results, hole number one showed a potash deposit of 12.76 percent potash 9.5 feet deep starting at 1,156 feet in depth. The second hole showed a 13.5-foot deposit of 13.27 percent potash lying at a depth of 1,020 feet and hole number three showed a 10-foot seam with a 13.52 percent potash content lying at a depth of 1,059 feet.
The remaining holes showed the following results:
* Hole number 4, 9.5 feet deep, 13.55 percent content at 1,055 feet.
* Hole number 5, five feet deep, 13.58 percent content at 995 feet.
* Hole number 6, 7.5 feet deep, 12.99 percent content at 952 feet.
* Hole number 7, 10 feet deep, 9.95 percent content at 963 feet.
* Hole number 8, 15 feet deep, 14.13 percent content at 932 feet.
The data from these exploratory wells is expected to be included in Passports pre-feasibility study, due to be completed by the end of this year.
Ken Bond, head of Corporate Development for Passport, said the averages are consistent with what Passport has found elsewhere in drilling programs on its acreage in the Holbrook Basin.
“It’s very good news,” said Bond.
He said even though some of the results are lower than others, the ore will still be mined in some cases.
“When the mine is in operation they will still take the lower KCl (potash) material and blend it with the higher grades,” Bond said. “So you’re feeding the processing plant an average grade of ore.”
He said Passport is going forward with the exploration.
“Our next step is to do some additional drilling,” Bond said.
The second phase drilling program for the Hopi lands will be designed by Germany-based engineering firm ERCOSPLAN. According to the firm, the second phase may include up to 10 additional core holes. The company expects to start work on the second phase in early summer. The results of the second phase of core drilling will help to further define the extent of the potash resources on the Hopi lands and will aid in mine planning.
“We are glad to have the first phase of the Hopi drilling completed and look forward to the recommendations from ERCOSPLAN,” said Josh Bleak, president and CEO of Passport Potash. “We are very encouraged by the results of the first phase of drilling, where six of the eight holes had an ore zone that exceeded nine feet in thickness and the KCl and K2O (potassium oxide) grades were consistently high.
“We are excited to work with our Hopi partners on the next phase of development,” Bleak added.
By Nick Worth