Intrepid Potash’s solar solution mining process
To better understand Intrepid Potash, Inc. (IPI) as a company, we have to analyze where their products come from and go to. IPI produces (mines) potash and langbeinite (marketed as Trio) and sells them to the agriculture, industrial, and feed markets. In 2012, 95% of sales were made within the U.S. but as of 2013, all sales are expected to remain in the U.S.
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Where do the products come from?
The usual production process at IPI begins with the potash extraction. It is then processed and sold. Two of IPI’s production facilities employ this method. The more modern facilities, however, have a peculiar method of producing potash: solar solution mining.
To extract potash, IPI injects a water solution called brine into “used mines” and dissolves the remaining potash into the liquid. This liquid is then pumped into a solar evaporation pond where potash will recrystallized after water has evaporated. The material is then harvested, packaged, and sold.
Trio is the registered name for langbeinite. Langebeinite is a specialty fertilizer containing potassium, magnesium, and sulfur. 37% of Trio sales are international. However, they only represent 3.6% of all IPI sales.
Where do the products go?
IPI has more than 180 customers. However, the two largest customers account for 31% purchases. This poses a significant threat if they decide not to purchase from IPI. As of September 30, 2013, 73% of sales where directed to the agricultural market, 19% to the industrial market, and 8% to the animal feed market. U.S. imports 85% of its potash; for this reason IPI claims an advantage, being close to clients as well as potential clients who could change the U.S. consumption from international to national—more on this later.