From Beyond Meat to First Solar, there seems to be a trend for eco-friendly projects to shatter standards and get immense market support – and for good reason! But there’s one destructive industry that’s so essential to maintaining our way of life and technological progress, it has seemingly managed to slip between the cracks in terms of innovation and regulation -the mining industry.
Enter Gensource Potash (TSXV:GSP), an innovative company with a strong and eco-friendly vision of how potash should be mined.
Gensource employs a few green-mining practices in unison to earn their projects the title of “not a development” according to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment’s Ministerial Determination. Yes, you read that right, its proposed potash extraction process is so clean the provincial government doesn’t consider its projects as “mines” that require a detailed environmental impact statement. In fact, they’re the first mining project to ever receive this assessment. Note that Gensource did submit a detailed environmental assessment to the Ministry of Environment as part of its application in support of the position that the facility didn’t need a full environmental impact assessment, so the environmental work was done by Gensource, but done up front to prove the environmental friendliness of the facility.
The two most distinctive features of Gensource’s process are selective-solution extraction of potassium chloride (potash, or “MOP”) and built-in absorption chilling. The technology isn’t new, but the combination is.
Potash solution mining has been around since the 1960s, and unlike conventional mining, it doesn’t involve moving millions of tons of rock to get to the good stuff. Instead, it’s a process that pumps heated brine through selective injection and recovery wells to selectively extract MOP. This process not only costs less to build but also takes less time to get up and running versus conventional mines. The downside is its hefty energy consumption once running, as the potassium-brine has to be cooled to separate the sodium chloride (NaCl) from the valuable potassium chloride (KCl), and cooling hundreds of thousands of tons of potash is energy intensive.
But this is where Gensource found solution mining’s match made in heaven – absorption chilling.
Absorption chilling, to put it simply, is a mechanism that juggles and repurposes heat to create cooling… just like the propane refrigerator in your camping RV (didn’t you ever wonder how burning propane can cool the beer in your fridge?).
Why does absorption chilling make sense for a solution mine? Steam is already being used to generate electrical power and heat up the circulating brine. The waste heat from these processes can be repurposed to then chill Gensource’s potash crystallizers. This recycling of energy effectively saves ~$700,000 USD per module per year versus otherwise purchased grid energy!
The other way Gensource breaks the norm is in their tiny module size. Gensource’s potash production modules are just one-tenth the size and less than on-tenth the cost of traditional potash operations – making that $700,000 ten times more meaningful.
And it’s all to make vertical integration a walk in the park using some pretty simple logic: a mine that costs less is easier to fund and that makes getting mines to production faster. Further, the small size means the available markets for the product are much more plentiful.
Small mines have the added bonus of garnering tremendous support from their local communities. Since they require less manpower, jobs can be filled by locals instead of out-of-town workers.
As we realize that the environment could use more champions, Gensource aims to set new standards globally so they’ll always be ahead of the curve. As a green mining company, they don’t need to change their methods – they’re the ones inspiring the change.
The best part? Gensource hasn’t begun potash extraction yet, and if you’ve done your homework you’d know that in terms of averages, now might be the best time to buy in.
The chart below shows the best time to invest in a mining company. Gensource is currently in the mine development period and just past what is called the “Orphan Period”. Expect to hear it has arranged debt and equity financing with institutions shortly.
It’s long past concept and patenting, beyond discovery and even feasibility studies. It’s approach is so disruptive that some analysts believe Gensource may break the potash oligopoly. It could just be the perfect time to go green.
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