County could see more ponds
The evaporation ponds of Great Salt Lake Mineral fall mainly into Box Elder County’s boundaries. The company is seeking approval to expand those ponds to meet the demand for the production of potash.
An Ogden-based company, Great Salt Lake Minerals Corporation, is seeking to expand its operation and their plans will have a direct effect on Box Elder County.
Dave Hyams, GSL spokeman, visited with county commissioners Wednesday, to “update the county” on the company and its hopes for the future.
Approximately 25,000 acres of GSL’s evaporation ponds line the west shore, all of them in Box Elder County. Another 40 percent of the east side ponds, or 10,000 acres, are also located within the county’s boundaries.
As the only supplier of potassium sulfate (SOP or sulfate of potash) in the United States, Hyams said the demand for their product has outgrown the current supply and the company is looking at enlarging their west side evaporation pond operation. “GSLM is at capacity and must grow to meet farmers’ needs,” Hyams told commissioners.
SOP is a nutrient used by growers worldwide to increase the productivity of fruits and vegetables and is only available in this area, due to the nature of the Great Salt Lake, Hyams said. The nutrient is extracted through a natural process. The western ponds retain lake water for up to a year while the sun’s heat creates the evaporation. As the minerals concentrate, they sink and are carried through a lakebed trench by way of gravity under the water to Promontory Point. From there the concentration is pumped to the east shore ponds. The entire trip of 21 miles takes seven days. But it will be another two years before the once salty brine has evaporated enough to leave the desired end result – dry potassium sulfate. From start to finish the process uses only wind, sun and time.
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