SUSSEX, N.B. - Atlantic Potash Corp. has been granted the right to explore and develop a potash deposit near Sussex.
The Saint John, N.B., company is committing $4.5 million to explore the Millstream deposit over the next two years, according to the deal signed Monday with the provincial government.
"It will provide an opportunity, if they're able to determine that it can be done in a viable way, to have good-paying jobs, highly-skilled jobs, allowing New Brunswickers to work at home," Premier David Alward said in an interview.
Ken Attoe, co-CEO of Atlantic Potash, said the province could benefit significantly if the Millstream deposit reveals commercially viable quantities of potash, particularly as global demand grows.
Attoe said the Sussex area has a lot of experience in potash development and agriculture.
"These are strong resources to build on and we look forward to working with the community, provincial agencies, regulatory bodies and officials as we continue to investigate New Brunswick's potash opportunity," Attoe said in a statement.
The Millstream deposit — about 10 kilometres west of Sussex — was discovered more than 25 years ago.
There are 330 people working at the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX:POT) mine at Penobsquis, near Sussex, and another 140 jobs expected when their new $1.6-billion mine opens nearby next year.
Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said the province earned more than $15 million in royalties from potash production last year and he expects that to rise to $18 million this year.
Atlantic Potash was one of two companies to respond to the government's request for proposals issued in April.
Millstream is one of four known potash deposits in New Brunswick.
Potash is used primarily as a component in agricultural fertilizer. It is mined in 13 countries and used in more than 150.