Michigan Potash & Salt Co. in Evart Township is moving forward with its plans to construct a potash extraction and processing facility after recently reaching an agreement with Barton Malow Co. to complete engineering, procurement and construction.
Barton Malow Co., founded in 1924, is the largest union trade employer of boilermakers, ironworkers, riggers, millwrights, carpenters and laborers.
The need for the facility was underscored by a presidential order issued in December that calls for a secure and reliable U.S. supply of 35 critical and strategic minerals, including potash, which is an all-natural potassium fertilizer needed by farmers to reduce water needs, improve farming sustainability and improve crop yield.
It is the only strategic and critical mineral responsible for national food security and agricultural welfare. The U.S. currently imports more than 95% of its potash needs, principally from Russia, Belarus and Canada.
The MPSC facility is critically located where there is the most need in the U.S. and lends immediate infrastructural and distribution strength to U.S. fertilizer networks, which is mandated by the U.S. Defense Production Act. Soybean, corn, sugarbeet and potato farmers are some of the largest potash-dependent growers.
MPSC began ground clearing and infrastructure improvements this winter, including power and road upgrades in partnership with infrastructural providers servicing Osceola County.
MPSC's potash manufacturing process uses a highly purifying water recycling system that is near 90% water-recycle efficient. Potash ore in Michigan is accessed by circulating water and brine over 1.5 miles underground and utilizes green geothermal energy and combined heat and power technology.
This enables an efficient, low-cost means of fertilizer manufacturing. Food grade saleable salt is a coproduct advantage of the MPSC manufacturing process and provides additional revenue streams that offset operating costs, which already are the world's lowest net delivered to the Corn Belt.
The location of the facility is in Evart, which is in an economically distressed rural community. According to MPSC, it is a $750 million investment with a project life capable of spanning more than 150 years.
Together, Barton Malow and MPSC will create about 260 direct construction jobs over a three-year period, and about 150 full-time skilled trade jobs after the facility is up and running. The project delivers shared royalty, increases the industrial tax base and reinvests sustaining capital of more than $60 million annually, according to MPSC.
"Barton Malow is thrilled to be partnered with MPSC on this extraordinary project," says Chuck Binkowski, chief operating officer for Barton Malow Co. "This facility will positively impact agriculture in the United States for many years to come."
A completed potash facility will help stem the U.S. import reliance on potash and would turn Michigan into the nation's leading domestic source for this critical agricultural resource.