At some point in our working lives, many of us have made an offhand comment about grinding out “another day in the salt mines” or something of the sort, but how many of us have thought about what that means? Salt is an important mineral that is indeed actually mined, and is used for much more than seasoning food at mealtimes.
The North American salt market is about $3 billion annually and in addition to table salt, the various grades of the mineral are used for road de-icing (the largest market for salt), water treatment, dialysis solutions, animal feed, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceutical production, and food preservation. Traditionally, most industrial salt is imported from places like Chile and North Africa, which historically are not the most politically stable places on Earth. In addition, overseas shipping costs have gone through the roof. This presents both risk and opportunity.
Atlas Salt (TSXV: SALT) (OTCQB: REMRF) is a Canadian mineral exploration company that owns 100% of the Great Atlantic Project, the premier undeveloped salt source in North America located on the west coast of Newfoundland. The project is strategically positioned in the heart of the eastern North American road salt market, immediately beside a deep water port, and is poised to become just the second new underground salt mine in the last 60 years. As a technology-driven, environmentally-friendly new mine, potentially accessed (through inclined ramps) unlike any other existing salt mine in North America due to its unusual shallowness, Great Atlantic could hold the key to the security of supply in the robust road salt sector for decades to come. It would operate very much like a “Salt Factory.” An independently-produced Preliminary Economic Assessment is due by mid-January, followed soon after by a Feasibility Study.
The President of Atlas Salt, Rowland Howe, is affectionally and respectfully referred to as “Mr. Salt.” He was instrumental in turning Goderich in southern Ontario into the largest underground salt mine in the world with Compass Minerals (NYSE: CMP) soaring to $100 in the process.
Great Atlantic is the top priority for Atlas, so much so that the company recently completed a spin-out of its Fischell’s Brook Salt Dome Project to Triple Point Resources (Atlas retained a large equity stake in Triple Point but is focusing its attention on Great Atlantic which is also an attractive acquisition target given the $5.2 billion U.S. in buyouts that have already occurred in this sector since 2020).
Road de-icing salt may not be at the forefront of investors’ minds when it comes to strategically important assets, but clear roads in winter facilitate all commerce when you think about it. Work from home may still be a big part of the economy this winter, but people still need to get to grocery stores, schools, doctor appointments, and countless other places just to navigate daily life. Relying on imports presents inherent risks, so a reliable source of salt in a friendly location should be thought of as a national strategic asset for the U.S. and Canada.
Salt may not have the glitter of gold or the exciting headlines of lithium for EV production, but the mineral is an important part of the economy and efficient salt mines are known to produce impressive returns for decades. Mining of salt is also about as straightforward as it gets in the resource business, with no tailings, no grade control issues, and no metallurgical concerns, among other advantages. In the case of the Great Atlantic, upon potential production, almost all “ore” (salt) would go straight from underground to the port and market.
Pre-production projects in the mining space always need to be heavily scrutinized before
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