ThermoPotash is a controlled-release, non-chloride, multi-nutrient fertilizer that is ideally suited for Brazilian soils. It is a new product, which is expected to compete with other premium, multi-nutrient, non-chloride fertilizers currently in the Brazilian market, such as potassium sulphate (SOP) and potassium nitrate (NOP). ThermoPotash delivers potassium without the negative effects of chlorine, while the limestone content addresses the high acidity of Brazil's soils.
Research on the use of Cerrado Verde's potassium silicate rock to produce ThermoPotash began in the early 1980s by academics. Since 2009, with the help of a multitude of parties, Verde built on that earlier research through its own studies, development and successful agronomic field trials. Agronomic trials have been conducted in conjunction with the University of Uberlândia, the University of Lavras, the University of São Paulo, Empresa de Pesquisa Agropecuária de Minas Gerais (EPAMIG), ArcelorMittal BioFlorestas and a number of large corporate growers in Brazil. The production process for ThermoPotash is similar to the pyro portion of the production process the Company has developed for KCl. The Company's potassium silicate rock is heated in a rotary kiln along with limestone to produce ThermoPotash. Given that a ThermoPotash production facility requires a rotary kiln but no evaporation or crystallization equipment, capex for a ThermoPotash plant is expected to be materially lower than that for a KCl plant producing equivalent tonnage.
ThermoPotash was approved for use as a potash fertilizer by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture ("MAPA") on June 24, 2013 - its registration number is MG - 90. 773 10000-3. The product is now eligible for sale in Brazil. Over the past four years the Company and a number of research partners have conducted 41 lab tests and 15 field tests with 12 different crops on more than 23 hectares (230,000m2). The results of these tests have demonstrated the product's efficacy as a source of potassium, silicon and calcium, as well as its ability to address the acidity of Brazilian soils. The most recent of these results is a 30 month field test of ThermoPotash with coffee crops. The trial, conducted with EPAMIG, indicated that ThermoPotash was more efficient in the delivery of potassium than potassium chloride ("KCl") generating an equivalent coffee yield while using 36% of the potash that was applied to the KCl test plots. Click here to learn more.
The Company and its engineering partners are moving forward with a Flex Plant design for Phase 1. The proposed Flex Plant would have a capacity of approximately 1,000 tonnes per day and the capability of both producing ThermoPotash and running the pyro stage of a KCl production route. The successful operation of the pyro stage of KCl production seeks to obtain the desired performance guarantees for Phase 2. By ramping-up production with ThermoPotash in Phase 1, the Company (i) expects a lower initial capital cost compared to the previous strategy to go directly to a large scale production facility, (ii) anticipate cash generation from the sale of ThermoPotash, and (iii) expects a reduction in the scale-up risk of KCl production from its potassium silicate resource.