Polyhalite is a unique mineral salt which can be used as a fertilizer and has potential for other industrial applications. It is comprised of calcium, magnesium and potassium sulphates (CaSO4, MgSO4 and K2SO4).
Polyhalite was formed during the evaporation of prehistoric seas in the Permian period. Around 260 million years ago, Boulby Mine (the world’s only polyhalite mine) sat on the edge of the Zechstein Sea. The hot and dry conditions of the environment meant the sea evaporated quicker than it could be re-filled, leaving behind polyhalite, halite and potash minerals.
This phenomenon happened around about the same time as the Earth’s greatest extinction event known, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial land species becoming extinct. Two hundred sixty million years later, in the 21st century, ICL mines these minerals that were deposited back then. Travelling to the polyhalite layer of rock over 1,000 metres below the North Sea is like travelling backwards through geological history.
To take full advantage of the polyhalite opportunity, ICL intends to establish a plant next to the Boulby Mine in the UK for processing polyhalite into specialty fertilizers and industrial products.
Mined polyhalite will be available as a granular (2-4 mm particle size range) or powder product. More information on polyhalite, in the context of use as a fertilizer, can be found at http://www.polysulphate.com/introducing-polysulphate/. Information on ICL Fertilizers can be found in the ICL Fertilizers web page.