EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with a statement from Michigan Potash Company LLC.
The Michigan Strategic Fund has taken an initial step in approving a $225 million bond for a company pursuing a large-scale potash mining operation in Osceola County.
The board of the Michigan Strategic Fund today approved the bond “inducement” request from Michigan Potash Company LLC, which organized in 2011 to construct a potash (potassium chloride) and salt production plant and processing facility in Evart Township, about 80 miles north of Grand Rapids. The company seeks to extract the potash and salt from about 8,000 feet underground using a water cycling process.
Potash is a key ingredient in fertilizer and would be sold for other industrial purposes, while the salt would be sold for road de-icing, water softening and food-grade needs.
More than a decade in the making, the proposed Osceola County operation could potentially supply most of Michigan’s potash needs, as well as the needs of surrounding states, according to Michigan Economic Development Corp. officials. Michigan imports all of the roughly 300,000 tons of potash it consumes annually, while the U.S. imports approximately 96 percent of the 10 million to 12 million tons of potash consumed a year.
“This project has the potential to replace potash imports into Michigan,” according to an MEDC memo on the project.
Previous reports have said the project could spur a $65 billion potash industry in Michigan.
“We’re grateful for the support from the State of Michigan, which is accelerating this project forward to break our country’s dependence on foreign potash while bringing family-wage jobs to Osceola County.” Michigan Potash Co. Chief Operating Officer Aric Glasser said in an emailed statement.
The project would include a wellfield for the potash solution mining, brine water disposal and source water gathering, a production plan for extracting high quality salt and potash, and a processing facility to prepare market-ready products.
The private activity bonds approved today would support the construction of the collection and handling of wastewater and solid waste as part of the mining and manufacturing processes.
While the company does not currently have any employees, it plans to hire 129 workers in Michigan over the next three years. It also plans to employ roughly 300 union construction jobs during the three-year construction period.
Chris Cook, the MEDC’s managing director of capital access, said today that the project bonding will require “multiple” Michigan Strategic Fund approvals, and that today’s request for the approval of a bond inducement is “really an administrative step which is required for the private activity bond inducement.”
Next, Citigroup Global Market Inc. — which is acting as the underwriter for the bond issuance — will complete its due diligence related to the project, Cook said. The Michigan Strategic Fund would then consider a final bond authorization.
“We expect this one will move fairly quickly,” Cook said, noting that a final Michigan Strategic Fund vote could come by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the Biden Administration today announced a $500 million grant program to support U.S.-made fertilizer and combat price spikes on domestic farmers caused by the war in Ukraine. The Fertilizer Production Expansion Program will provide five-year grants from $1 million up to $100 million “to support independent, innovative and sustainable American fertilizer production to supply American farmers,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA will open a 45-day application window for priority projects that increase the availability of potash, nitrogen or phosphate to use in crop years 2023 or 2024.
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