Encanto Potash (TSXV:EPO) Chairman Gordon Keep anticipates an off-take agreement between his firm and a consortium of India potash importers will be ratified in the first quarter of 2014.
Details of the agreement first surfaced in January 2013 and again in June, 2013 on an Indian government Web site, calling for 1.8 to 2 million tonnes per year at a discount to the market price, then worth $736 million annually to Encanto.
The agreement, which had been negotiated and nearly finalized, but not yet ratified by the Indian government, required persistence to keep on track, when the world’s largest potash cartel, the Belarusian Potash Company, fell apart in July 2013, decimating the share prices of potash producers and developers including Encanto.
“The Indian process was delayed while they waited to see what the real results of the cartel breaking up would be,” Mr. Keep commented by phone on Tuesday. “Now it looks like the cartel is going to be re-formed, and the Indians have indicated the approval process continues moving forward.”
Keep is not alone in believing the Russian/Belarusian potash cartel will be rehabilitated.
“The joint marketing of potash fertilizers should be restored. Most probably this would happen,” Russia’s Ambassador to Belarus said during a December, 2013 press conference.
Keep considers the Indian off-take the best opportunity in the potash business today. Although not expected to contain an upfront cash payment to Encanto, the agreement would be backed by the India Consortium containing government wholly owned entities, and should open the company up to potential financing sources for its proposed $3 billion mine in the stability of a Canadian business environment.
“No question our off-take agreement will be the strongest of all the Junior Exploration and Development companies in Saskatchewan.”
Encanto’s Muskowekwan project in Saskatchewan has a Pre-Feasibility report suggesting a 70 year mine life using a solution mining method. The company is in the midst of completing a Full Feasibility Study.
The project is on Muskowekwan First Nation lands, with the Muskowekwan First Nation being equity and royalty holders on the project. Keep sees this as a positive for Encanto, citing both the federal and provincial government’s public support for the First Nation joint venture.
Keep, who has been to India six times over the past two years working on the off-take opportunity, believes Encanto’s share price could be revalued in 2014, on the back of a growing expectation for the re-establishment of the potash cartel, and the potential off-take opportunity.
“Our market cap is roughly $50 million, and just a few years ago companies less advanced than ours, like Athabasca Potash and Potash One, sold for $340-450 million, without an offtake.”
“At some point when the market cares again and once we have the agreement, investors will see the downside is limited compared to the significant upside.”
Encanto Potash trades on the TSX-Venture Exchange under the symbol EPO, and on the OTCQX under ENCTF.
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