Intrepid Potash announced it was reviewing its options following a court ruling that determined the miner no longer has water rights for commercial use from the Pecos River in New Mexico.
According to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Intrepid’s use of the Pecos River water became an issue after the company disclosed it planned to pump water from the river for sale to the oil and gas industry.
According to the Denver, Colorado,-based miner, the river was too saline for its water to be used in agriculture but recognized it could be utilized instead of potable freshwater in activities such as drilling.
“On August 17, 2021, the Fifth Judicial District Court, which serves as the adjudication court for the Pecos Stream System, ruled that all of Intrepid’s Pecos River water rights, except for 150 acre feet per year for salt processing use, were either forfeited or abandoned before 2017,” according to the U.S. SEC press release. "Based on the ruling, Intrepid no longer has water rights available for commercial use from the Pecos River. Intrepid reserves the right to appeal the ruling and is reviewing its options.”
Intrepid has held water rights to 19,000-acre feet per year at Pecos River, and has not diverted its water since 2016, reported Mining.com. 2016 was when it shut down its West facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico, laying off hundreds of people. The decision was made as a result of prices for the fertilizer ingredient reaching historic lows, with demand that didn’t pick up.
Intrepid submitted eight applications for temporary changes to its water rights to accommodate plans to sell water in 2017 and 2018, reported Mining.com. The company received preliminary approval from the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) to sell or lease 5,700-acre feet per year.
Notably, Intrepid is the only U.S. producer of muriate of potash, which is used in industrial applications and as an ingredient in animal feed, reported Mining.com.