Potash in the park: Miners survey deposits around Petrified Forest

A white, newer-model four-door Chevy truck bounces along a washboard county road outside Petrified Forest National Park before coming to a stop.

Far across the vast, open horizon of ranchlands to the south, monsoon clouds build over the White Mountains.

Park Superintendent Brad Traver emerges from the truck and walks across a recently graded patch of flat, high desert. He points out a welded metal cap on a test drill site in the center of the bare lot. A large patch of dead vegetation marks where the mining company discarded the spent drilling fluids nearby, likely mostly water.

The drill site is just a few hundred yards from the recently expanded park boundary. The Arizona Geological Survey says that more than 100 of these sites have popped up since 2009.

The miners are taking an inventory of potash in hopes of extracting billions of dollars worth of potash — a mineral chemically similar to salt that’s coveted as fertilizer in agribusiness.  — from the Holbrook Basin.

Much of the drilling has been done in areas that Congress authorized the National Park Service to purchase and expand Petrified Forest.

Read more on the story at azdailysun.com.