The possibility of a potash facility in Hoquiam was given an overview on Thursday night.
At Hoquiam High School, an open house from BHP Billiton Canada Inc. (BHP) was held to show what could be coming to the area, and what would be happening there.
BHP is a worldwide company, formed in 1885 and based out of Australia, that “extract and process minerals, oil and gas and our products are sold worldwide” according to their website. While the company currently handles commodities that include “iron ore, metallurgical coal, copper, and petroleum”, they say that they are moving into the potash industry as well, with Grays Harbor as a possible first port location to export the item.
In connection with an export terminal, BHP is currently in development of a potash mining facility in Saskatchewan, Canada they call the Jansen Project that would send that product by train throughout the US. For export to locations such as Asia and Brazil, the company needs a terminal. Grays Harbor and a site in British Columbia are both being considered.
BHP Manager of Corporate Affairs Ken Smith explained the product.
Smith went into some of the benefits, risks, and considerations they make as they work with potash.
Trevor Heuer, a Study Manager for the project, spoke to the crowd of approximately 100 people at the high school, on the project and where it is.
The proposed site in Hoquiam would be based at Terminal 3 near the Bowerman Airport. The site would take up the land between Airport Way and Emerson Ave. Contained trains carrying the potash would travel from Canada into Hoquiam, before unloading in the facility.
Garry Miller, Operations Manager for BHP talked about the overall size of the loads.
BHP says that with the project, 8-10 trains a week could come to the area, with 177 cars each. They would reach 8500 ft, or 1.6 miles long.
Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad and the East Aberdeen Mobility Project were also on hand during the open house. If the project is approved, the addition of the extra trains would require an overhaul of the rail lines and bridges in the area as well as a way to mitigate traffic in East Aberdeen.
The timeline for the project is dependent on the construction of the Jansen Project in Saskatchewan.
Smith said that this means a launch date 5-10 years away.
If the project comes to Hoquiam, Smith says that in addition to the years of construction work, permit fees, and financial benefit to the area, it would also bring jobs.
While the project is in the early stages, BHP states that they plan to apply for local permits starting in October, with over a dozen other shoreline and regulatory permits along the process before construction.
Photo of potash from Canadian Pacific Railway