A SIXTH prospective local Sulphate of Potash (SoP) company has joined the race to produce organic fertiliser from remote salt lake brine.
As a late entrant Trigg Mining, headed by mining engineer and entrepreneur Keren Paterson, is focussing on the local agriculture industry, both in terms of investors and as a main target market for fertiliser.
Her approach is in contrast to the current SoP production race leaders Kalium Lakes and Australian Potash, identified as KLL and APC on Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) listings.
KLL and APC have embraced institutional overseas investors to raise some funds and, as previously reported in Farm Weekly, are targeting global export markets via distribution partnerships in Germany and in China as their main production focus.
As Trigg managing director Ms Paterson, a graduate of the WA School of Mines at Kalgoorlie, outlined her plans for Trigg to become a major producer of SoP fertiliser for Australian agriculture to the WAFarmers' Trending Ag 2019 conference last week.
She explained Trigg had raised $400,000 with a seed capital raising last year and was now looking to raise $4.5 million in working capital from an initial public offering (IPO) of shares later this year.
It also planned to list on the ASX as a public company with the IPO, she said.
"Our aim is to produce Australian SoP fertiliser to improve productivity of Australian agriculture and to help reclaim land lost to salinity for sustainable agriculture," Ms Paterson told farmers at the conference.
"This is a really important milestone for us.
"I'm asking you today for your support to help this IPO succeed.
"I'm here today to seek your help in taking that next step.
"I'm looking to create a WA minerals business that is sustainable into the future producing an organic mineral fertiliser to benefit agriculture."
Ms Paterson described potassium as an "essential nutrient" for plants.
She outlined some of the natural benefits of SoP, which includes improved drought and frost resistance for crops through stronger cell structures and the lowest salt index of any potassium fertiliser, enabling it to be used on acidic or salt-affected soils.
Local SoP was a "much better alternative" to the higher salt content Muriate of Potash which was currently more widely used because of its much lower price than imported SoP, Ms Paterson said.
All of Australia's SoP was imported and some of it was made overseas by toxic chemical reaction, she said, in contrast to producing SoP in WA using natural hypersaline brine and solar evaporation concentrator ponds.
Its price meant imported SoP was only used to benefit high-return crops like fruit, vegetables and flowers.
But the aim of local production was to see it used more generally across broadacre agriculture, she said.
While it was the newest entrant in the race to produce local SoP, Trigg was already the largest SoP tenement holder in WA and it had achieved that within 18 months, Ms Paterson pointed out.
It controls 400 square kilometres of salt lakes up to 200 kilometres east of Laverton, centred on lakes Throssell, Rason and Hope Campbell.
It also has a further 300 square kilometres of palaeochannel - ancient river beds - it can mine for SoP closer to Laverton.
Ms Paterson said Trigg's tenements were located closer to existing road, rail and gas pipeline infrastructure than most of its competitors which gave it advantages in distribution options and a ready fuel for the ion-transfer process of turning harvest salts from evaporation ponds into a commercial granular SoP product.
Triggs' sites are located near the major Tropicana and Gruyere gold mine projects in the Northern Goldfields region, she said.