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Circular 207—Potash resources at Wipp site, New Mexico

By J. M. Barker, G. S. Austin, G. B. Griswold, I. Gundiler, J. E. Griswold, and P. C. Anselmo, 1999, 92 pp., 138 tables, 65 figs., ISBN: 1-883905-04-4.

This report presents the results of a comprehensive estimate of the potash resources underlying the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) land withdrawal area, which surrounds the WIPP site. Potash is the common industrial term for potassium in various chemical combinations with sodium, magnesium, chloride, and sulfate. Potassium is one of the three essential plant nutrients and is the "K" in "NPK" fertilizer rating, along with nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P). The potassium in potash is reported as K2O eq. wt.% although potassium oxide is not directly present in natural potassium salts. For potash fertilizers, K2O is closest chemically to the form of potassium used by plants and is the best means to compare fairly the diverse mineralogy of potash.

Important natural and commercial soluble potassium salts are sylvite and langbeinite. Sylvinite, a mixture of sylvite and halite, is the typical ore mined in the Carlsbad potash district (CPD) in southeast New Mexico. The CPD is near the northeast border of the Delaware Basin and contains the largest domestic potash reserves. Soluble potash occurs primarily in Eddy and Lea Counties, which contain the only potash mines in the state. The Potash anclave, also designated the Known Potash Leasing Are (KPLA), consists of that part of the CPD where federal and state lands under BLM management require competitive bidding for mineral leases. The WIPP site is on the southeast edge of the KPLA in secs. 15–22 and 27–34 T22S R31E.

The work for both Circular 206 and Circular 207 was undertaken by the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources as part of a larger project in 1994 and 1995 under contract for the Waste Isolation Division of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, manager of the construction and operation of the WIPP site. That project evaluated all of the energy and mineral resources within the boundaries of the WIPP land withdrawal area and the additional one-mile-wide area.

ISBN: 9781883905044

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