Mining News

Court rules Intrepid Potash has no water rights in New Mexico

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Shares in Intrepid Potash (NYSE: IPI) have lost almost 20% of their value in two days, as the company announced it was “reviewing its options” following a court ruling that determined the miner no longer has water rights for commercial use from the Pecos River in New Mexico. 

Intrepid’s use of the Pecos River water became controversial after the company disclosed it planned to pump water from the river for sale to the oil and gas industry.  

The Denver, Colorado-based miner said the river was too saline for its water to be used in agriculture but noted it could be utilized in lieu of potable freshwater in activities such as drilling. 

Intrepid’s use of the Pecos River water became controversial after the company disclosed it planned to pump water from the river for sale to the oil and gas industry.  

Intrepid, which held water rights to 19,000-acre feet per year at Pecos River, has not diverted its water since 2016, when it shut down its money-losing West facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico. 

In 2017 and 2018, Intrepid submitted eight applications for temporary changes to its water rights to accommodate plans to sell water. The company received preliminary approval from the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) to sell or lease 5,700-acre feet per year. 

Opponents argued the company’s water rights were forfeited years ago for non-use, adding that selling water rather than using it for potash refining would require public hearings and approval.  

Today’s verdict confirms that almost all the company’s Pecos River water rights had been either forfeited or abandoned before 2017. 

Among top three US juniors

Intrepid Potash reported earlier this month better than expected earnings and revenues for the second quarter of the year. 

The company, which belongs to the Zacks Fertilizers industry, posted revenues of $57.77 million for the quarter ended June 2021, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 18.87%. This compares to revenue of $37.72 million in the same period last year.  

Intrepid, which has topped consensus revenue estimates three times over the last four quarters, is one of the top ten US-based mid-tiers to junior miners.  

The company has risen from its fifth position last year to the number three spot in 2021. 

Intrepid is the only US producer of muriate of potash, which is used in several industrial applications and as an ingredient in animal feed. It currently supplies about 3.5% of the country’s annual consumption of muriate of potash. 

Shares in the company have fallen from a high of $35.5 a piece on Aug. 18 to $28.32 in early afternoon on Friday, leaving it with a market value of about $381 million. 

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