When you think WA exports you think iron ore, gold, gas and grain. Underneath the big four there’s a plethora of other WA exports — cattle, seafood, wool, salt and lithium to name a few. And another resource could soon join that mix and may one day sit among the State’s premier export commodities. That commodity is sulphate of potash, a potassium-rich fertiliser used in the global agriculture industry. During the past five years there has been growing hype in the business world about the race to be WA’s first SOP producer. While there’s no long-term benefit aside from bragging rights to be first, the race has provided intrigue and context to a fledgling industry which is now close to reaching the market. Here are a few of the key players. SALT LAKE POTASH The Lake Way project is firming up as the most likely to be first across the line to kickstart WA’s potash industry. First production is expected within six months and positive cashflow for the company is forecast to come soon after. Some 245,000 tonnes a year is expected to be produced from Lake Way over a 20-year mine life. Salt Lake’s flagship play is just south of Wiluna but it is also eyeing off 10 other salt lakes across the Mid West and Goldfields regions. The company has 224,000 tonnes of annual product already signed off to global distributors including Mitsui, Helm Ag and Indagro. KALIUM LAKES On schedule and on budget; that was the message coming out of Kalium Lakes’ Beyondie project at the start of September. That message referred to completion of the project’s accommodation village, offices, lab, warehouse and workshops 160km south-east of Newman. In August Kalium Lakes announced a significant 200 per cent boost to its mineral resource estimate. That increase gave the company a 34.1 million-tonne resource with annual production tipped at 180,000 tonnes over 50 years once fully operational. First production from Beyondie is expected in September 2021. AUSTRALIAN POTASH Lake Wells covers more than 1200sqkm of mining and exploration leases north-east of Laverton on the edge of the Great Victoria Desert. The project received the green tick from the Environmental Protection Authority in September and Australian Potash is on track to make a final investment decision early next year. Australian Potash expects to produce 150,000 tonnes of sulphate of potash per year for at least the next 30 years. With a total resource estimate of 18.1 million tonnes, indicative mine life exceeds 50 years. More than 85 per cent of forecast output from Lake Wells is already contracted through four offtake agreements with Mitsui, Migao, Redox and most recently Helm Ag which will distribute through Europe. In September the company spruiked its green credentials as the country’s lowest carbon-emitting potash project due to a wind, solar and battery power system which will generate 60 per cent of its energy needs. AGRIMIN Agrimin is developing two potash fields in WA’s remote north, one of which is said to be the largest undeveloped resource of its kind in the world. Lake Auld north-east of Punmu and Lake Mackay on the WA border near Kiwirrkurra are at varied stages of development. The Mackay project is shooting to become the world’s lowest-cost potash producer and carries a whopping mineral resource estimate of 123 million tonnes. Once fully operational, production capacity is expected to reach 450,000 tonnes per annum over at least 40 years. The scale of Agrimin’s project saw it awarded major project status by the Federal Government in May, which provides extra government support to move development along through the approvals process.