Water Supply.

A long-term supply of sufficient water is fundamental to the successful development and operation of most mines. For the Ochoa project, IC Potash Corp. is developing a deep, non-potable water supply from the Capitan aquifer.

Supplying the Ochoa project with water from the Capitan aquifer is advantageous for many reasons:

  1. No permit is required because the aquifer meets the basic criteria for mining established by the State of New Mexico
  2. Both Bureau of Land Management and New Mexico Office of the State Engineer are supportive of using deep brackish groundwater for mining
  3. There is a track record in the region for the use of deep brackish groundwater from the Capitan aquifer
  4. There would be no competition for the limited freshwater resources that are essential to the surrounding communities

The Capitan aquifer is composed of the Capitan Formation, parts of the Goat Sheep Formation, and the Artesia Group (all referred to as the Capitan Reef complex). The Capitan Reef complex is a horseshoe-shaped limestone deposit surrounding the Delaware Basin, and is present in southeastern New Mexico and western Texas. The complex extends over a distance of approximately 200 miles. Within Lea County, the aquifer ranges from 800 to 2,200 feet thick and is approximately 12 miles wide near the Eddy County and Lea County boundary and 6 miles wide near Jal, New Mexico.

History of Water Use
Brackish groundwater from the Capitan aquifer has been used historically for secondary oil recovery, thus establishing a precedent for using this resource for industrial purposes. Historical sources discuss a number of brackish groundwater development projects in the Capitan Reef, including the Jal Water Supply system near Jal, New Mexico, and El Capitan Source Water system near Kermit, Texas.

The El Capitan Source Water system was developed in the mid-1960s by Shell Oil for secondary oil recovery. These wells were completed in the Capitan Reef with plans to pump up to 28,000 acre-feet per year. The New Mexico Office of the State Engineer documented water use from this well field in the range of 8,000 acre-feet per year in 1964, expected to be in the range of 13,000 acre-feet per year in 1965. In 1965, the estimated total fluid withdrawals from the Capitan Reef in Texas were in the range of 30,000 to 40,000 acre-feet per year from 1945 to 1965. Thus, there is clear evidence of significant historical usage of brackish water from the Capitan aquifer, indicating a high probability of success for its use as a supply source for Ochoa.

The El Capitan system was developed in the mid-1960s by Shell Oil as a water source for secondary oil recovery. These wells were completed in the Capitan Reef with plans to pump up to 28,000 acre-feet per year. The New Mexico Office of the State Engineer documented water use from this well field in the range of 8,000 acre-feet per year in 1964, expected to be in the range of 13,000 acre-feet per year in 1965. In 1965, the estimated total fluid withdrawals from the Capitan Reef in Texas were in the range of 30,000 to 40,000 acre-feet per year from 1945 to 1965. Thus, there is clear evidence of significant historical usage of brackish water from the Capitan aquifer, indicating a high probability of success for its use as a supply source for Ochoa.
 
Well Drilling and Testing
In support of the Feasibility Study, ICP completed and tested two production wells that produce water from the Capitan aquifer. The pumping tests successfully demonstrated the desired pumping capacity of the wells and confirmed the aquifer’s suitability to provide Ochoa with a high-yield, long-term supply of water.

Water Treatment
In March 2013, ICP completed a bench-scale test to evaluate the processing plant’s planned Reverse Osmosis (R/O) system on water drawn from the Capitan aquifer. Using a two-stage R/O process, a 96% reduction in total dissolved solids was achieved, with 92.5% permeate recovery. These results further validated the ability to achieve the 90% permeate recovery process necessary for overall water balance determined in the Feasibility Study.