A few years ago, potash was being touted in some circles as “the next big thing” for North Dakota.
Potash is a fertilizer. It’s big in Canada and other countries. It’s a big industry in Saskatchewan. And there is a significant deposit northwest of Minot.
However, the price dropped – and companies interested in mining North Dakota potash went to England instead.
"When the price jumped up to $1000 per metric ton, our deposits that tend to be deeper than in Saskatchewan became more economic," said State Geological Survey director Ed Murphy. "That price has since dropped to about $233 a ton. So I think we're going to sit where we're at until the price goes up again."
Murphy said studies have shown there are two different minerals in North Dakota’s potash – potassium chloride and potassium magnesium chloride. However, Murphy said if potash mining becomes an industry in North Dakota, the potassium magnesium chloride could become a profitable by-product.
"Because of our needs for magnesium chloride for dust suppression on roads, that could be an advantage," Murphy said.
In 2011, the Legislature imposed a two percent tax on potash mining.