HOBBS, N.M.—A planned $1 billion potash mine in southeastern New Mexico could break ground this year, officials say.

The final licensing hurdle for the proposed polyhalite mine west of Jal, N.M., could be cleared in a few weeks, and if financial backing can be secured, Intercontinental Potash Corp. might start work soon, the Hobbs News-Sun reports (http://goo.gl/25MBHt).

News of the conclusion of the final environmental impact statement for the project came earlier this month and a record of decision is expected within 30-days from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.

"Receipt of the final Environmental Impact Statement is the latest accomplishment on our path to operations," Sidney Himmel, president and chief executive officer of Intercontinental Potash Corp., said in a statement. "We are grateful to the Bureau of Land Management for their professionalism and due diligence."

The company recently filed a final feasibility study on the project that should give the company a foothold in securing the funding necessary to build.

According to that study, sulphate of potash production in 2017 is estimated at 48 percent of annual capacity, with full capacity expected in 2018.

The site has an estimated 414 million tons of polyhalite reserves beneath the 40 sections of land the company has leased from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Foote, the company's chief operating officer, said Intercontinental Potash Corp., has not fully arranged financing for the project and so construction start dates are tentative.


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"We feel we will get that accomplished this year," he said.

Earlier this year, a consultant group said the planned potash mine would be economically viable for the next five decades. The independent study showed the mine could produce about 714,400 tons of sulphate of potash per year for a minimum of 50 years.

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Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com