(June 15, 2017)
EVART — The Michigan De-partment of Transportation an-nounced May 8 it will assist with a road improvement project in Osceola County if and when Michigan Potash Co. begins op-erations there.To accommodate the expected increase in trafﬁc, the Osceola County Road Commission plans to reconstruct 135th Avenue, Schoﬁeld Road, and a portion of 120th Avenue to all-season standards.The anticipated total cost of the improvements is $5.2 mil-lion. Of that amount, MDOT would contribute $2,412,500 with the funds coming from the state’s Transportation Econom-ic Development Fund. Michigan Potash Co. would contribute $2,812,500.“It is not common for a compa-ny to put in that kind of money,” said Michael Leon, TEDF pro-gram manager with MDOT.Michigan Potash Co. is likely to shoulder a $648,000,000 bur-den for the construction of the potash extraction facility. The plant will create more than 150 new jobs, according to Michigan Potash Co. ofﬁcials.
Luke Houlton, of the Osceola County Road Commission, cautioned that the road con-struction won’t begin anytime soon. The grant is contingent on Michigan Potash Co. receiving all the necessary permits to op-erate. He anticipates the soonest the road improvements would begin would be sometime next year.He said it is gratifying to know that Michigan Potash Co. ofﬁ-cials and the Michigan Depart-ment of Transportation recog-nized the need for the roads to be improved when and if the plant goes in. Between the two sources of funding, Osceola County will be responsible for very little of the cost, Houlton said.
The planned road improve-ment project is but another step in the process of tapping into the rich lode of potash underly-ing the area about a mile and a half deep.Ted Pagano, chief executive of Michigan Potash Co., said he was pleased the state highway department recognizes “the in-frastructural necessity” of the road improvement project. Pagano said the planned pot-ash extraction operation will be a multigenerational affair thatwill create jobs, support infra-structure, produce a domestic product and help support the lo-cal school system. According to Pagano, United States production of potash sat-isﬁes only 6 to 10 percent of the nation’s needs. The deposit from which Michigan Potash Co. plans to draw is the only reserve ready for development, and it occurs in an area that serves the needs of many of the country’s farmers. The long-term beneﬁts of mining the area’s potash “reach beyond rural Michigan to in-clude the entire United States corn belt. It begins with a road, made possible by MDOT and the Osceola County Road Commis-sion,” Pagano said.
Michigan Potash Presents Case To Friends Of Evart
EVART — Theodore Pagano, chief executive of Michigan Potash Co., was in town recently to discuss the beneﬁts of his company’s proposed solution mining operation. He pressed his case during a June 1 Friends of Evart meeting and later that evening at a town hall meeting.Potash, Pagano said, is one of the most tightly controlled commodities in the world. Cur-rently, only 10 countries in the world produce potash. Potash is important to the entire country, and the Hersey reserve, where Michigan Potash Co. hopes to set up shop, has the highest-grade potash in the world. The Hersey reserve is also large.
Pagano said the proposed potash extraction facility would be a generational project. He estimates the reserve has a 150-year supply of the sub-stance.About 94 percent of the potash used right now in the country is imported, Pagano said. Potash — potassium — is an important component of many fertilizers. It also is a highly sought product. Pagano said a number of countries are looking for sup-plies of it to import.Solution mining is an efﬁcient method for extracting potash from deep reserves. Water is pumped into the ground where the mineral deposits lie. Potash dissolves in the water and the water is pumped back to the surface where the potash is removed. The process uses no mine shafts, has no need for personnel to work underground and it leaves no tailings behind, Pagano said.
Pagano said the construction of the potash extraction facility will provide employment oppor-tunities for about 300 workers. When operational, the plant will employ about 170. Total operat-ing costs will run about $60 mil-lion per year.The plant will supply the en-tire state with potash with the water of one irrigation well, Pagano said. And, because po-tassium helps plants conserve water, Pagano said farmers will be able to reduce irrigation by adding potash to the soil.
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