Major potash operation one step closer to opening
by Buckley Jensen
Apr 27, 2011 | 8247 views | 0 0 comments | 143 143 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A major potash mining operation is moving ahead with hopes to begin operations in San Juan County. Details were discussed at the April 25 meeting of the San Juan County Commission.

Keith Price, an area manager working with TRH Inc., reported on progress of proposed mining operations north of Monticello in the Hatch Wash area of Dry Valley. While this is not a formal announcement, what follows is a status report to the commission.

The company has been working quietly in the area for years doing preliminary work on state lands. TRH, according to Price, is the second largest potash producer in the world.

He reports that last week, an investment company allocated an additional $10 million to continue drilling in the potash deposit and to begin drilling water wells.

The name of the investment company in Australia is Transit Holdings. The stock market symbol is KTO.

Price said the cooperation the company has received from San Juan County has been outstanding. In return, the company has committed to have offices in Monticello and employ as many San Juan County residents as possible in the slurry and trucking operations.

The upper end of the plan would ship up to two million tons of potash annually by truck to a railhead in Flagstaff, AZ for distribution across the nation and west to ports for shipment abroad.

TRH estimates a workforce of 250, in addition to the truck drivers and mechanics that will be necessary to move the potash to the railhead.

Commissioners congratulated Price on the progress and said that this could be a large boost to San Juan County growth and development.

In other business, Commissioners heard from a group representing Utah Navajo Health System (UNHS), led by Donna Singer and Dr. Norman Nielson. They report that ambulance service is limited in Montezuma Creek and Monument Valley.

UNHS and San Juan County discussed partnering to improve ambulance service to areas in the county where emergency response time is lacking. A lengthy discussion of the costs associated with the problems took place, with both entities committing to work to solve the problem.

County Surveyor David Bronson asked for permission to purchase computer software. Request was granted.

County Clerk Norman Johnson approached Commissioners about an unfunded mandate from the State of Utah. Starting June 1, all counties in Utah will be required to send all their financial information to the state. This is part of the state effort to provide greater transparency.

When fully implemented, anyone will be able to go to the website www.transparent.ut.guv and see every check written by any county statewide.

Johnson said San Juan County saved a lot of money implementing this law because John Fellmeth, who is the chief deputy auditor, was able to do the work associated with compliance. The law requires submission of information quarterly as of June 1.

Debra Dull, from Rocky Mountain Power Company, was introduced. She shared her background and responsibilities with Rocky Mountain Power in southeastern Utah. She reports the company is constructing a large new transmission line through the area and referred to the project as “Gateway South”.

Rick Bailey, Administrative Assistant to the Commission, presented five new building permits, which were all approved. One unusual request is for a refreshment stand at Dead Horse Point State Park. Bailey also presented the Commission with a letter from Denison Mines announcing that they plan to begin exploration for uranium on properties they hold in the county.

County liaison Jerry McNeely reported that there were 4,000 jeeps in Moab for the Jeep Safari and that 3,000 of them were probably prowling around in San Juan County as he spoke. He reports that traffic was terrible in Moab and McDonald’s was doing a land office business.

McNeely reported that Stone Energy from Louisiana is presently drilling seven new oil wells in Lisbon Valley. The first one is producing up to 3,800 barrels of oil a day.

Commissioner Bruce Adams reported that the ten-member legislative group which oversees Native American affairs for the State was in San Juan County for several days. They held meetings in Oljeto and White Mesa and visited other areas of the county. Adams said as far as he knows, this is the first time the group has been in San Juan County.
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