MRO Magazine

IC Potash Announces Appointment of Industry Experts to Enhance Development of Ochoa Project

By Business Wire News   


IC Potash Corp.(TSX: ICP; OTCQX: ICPTF) (“ICP” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that its wholly owned subsidiary Intercontinental Potash Corp. (USA) has appointed Patrick Okita as Chief Development and Technical Officer. The Company also announces that it has retained Graham Wheelock and Kevin Burford to assist with the development of the Ochoa Project, subject to all required government, regulatory and other approvals.

Sidney Himmel, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICP, stated: “We are delighted to have Messrs. Okita, Wheelock and Burford join the ICP team. Collectively, these gentlemen bring 89 years of applied leadership in mining, including mine development, operations, and optimization. With the addition of Patrick Okita, Graham Wheelock and Kevin Burford, ICP has the expertise to take the Ochoa Project into production and to bring potassium sulfate to a worldwide market.”

Patrick Okita, Ph.D.

Dr. Patrick Okita has 29 years of experience in the international mineral and energy industries. Dr. Okita’s key roles are application of geochemistry and ore forming processes to resource characterization and mineral processing, supply-demand analysis and resource development strategy. He has conducted exploration and evaluation of deposits and prospects across 26 mineral commodity groups including: potash, phosphate, borate, iron, manganese, and barite, as well as sediment-hosted lead-zinc and copper, coalbed methane and mineable oil sand. His experience includes working in 23 countries where his responsibilities included large-scale remote field exploration activities, business management, and government liaison.

Potash is a particular focus for Dr. Okita and his experience ranges from basin wide and regional scale evaluations, through delineation drilling of mining reserves to feasibility studies. His work related to potash includes evaluation of resource and development criteria for dozens of the producing, prospective, and generative projects throughout the world. Dr. Okita’s significant accomplishments in the past ten years have included his participation from inception in the definitional work on BHP Billiton’s potash projects in Saskatchewan and Ethiopia; leading exploration and resource definition for ICP’s Ochoa Project in New Mexico; and exploration, production, and asset sale of coalbed methane properties in West Virginia.

Dr. Okita has held technical and management positions with the U.S. Geological Survey as Research Scientist, BHP Minerals (now BHP Billiton) as Worldwide Exploration Manager for Industrial Minerals, and is currently a Principal Economic Geologist with Upstream Resources. Dr. Okita has a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Cincinnati, an MSc. in Geology from Louisiana State University and a B.Sc. in Geology and Biology from the University of Rochester. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the U.S. National Research Council.

Kevin Burford, B. Acc. Sc. (Hons)

Mr. Kevin Burford is a Chartered Accountant (South Africa) with 28 years of experience in the mining industry having worked for De Beers Consolidated Diamond Mines (“De Beers”), Anglo American Corporation (“Anglo American”), Xstrata, and Gem Diamonds Limited (“Gem Diamonds”) in various strategic and operational leadership positions covering capital and debt markets, shareholder relations, finance, treasury, business strategy, risk management, governance, supply chain, IT and internal audit. In the early part of his career he held various financial positions at the De Beers Finsch Mine in South Africa and the Namdeb Diamond Corporation mine in Namibia, during which time he was involved in or had financial oversight responsibility for multi-million dollar capital expansion projects, including the Finsch Mine underground development project, construction of Namdeb’s Elizabeth Bay and Auchas mines, as well as its offshore mining capability through its deep water mining contractor, De Beers Marine.

Thereafter he assumed the role of Group Manager – Finance for the De Beers group, during which time he had financial responsibility across the operational and exploration divisions of the company. This included financial leadership and management of eleven different mines in various countries covering open pit, alluvial, underground and offshore mining operations. A key part of this role was the oversight of all capital expenditure covering stay in business, replacement and expansion capital for existing mines as well as new projects. During this time a key focus was on production growth, unit cost improvement, profitability, cash delivery and the effective deployment of capital.

Shortly thereafter he helped found Gem Diamonds. In his role as the CFO he had executive responsibility for the company’s listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2007, raising approximately US$600 million of new capital. During his tenure he served as a member of the board of directors and as either Chairman or director of all operational and project development companies forming part of Gem Diamonds (the “Group”). The Group deployed the capital raised on the acquisition, development and expansion of various companies and mines in Lesotho, Australia, Botswana and Indonesia. During this time the Group raised additional equity capital and debt in order to pursue its growth strategy.

Mr. Burford retired from Gem Diamonds in 2013. Mr. Burford will assist ICP in capital and project finance raising and mine development, areas in which he has extensive experience.

Graham Wheelock, M.Sc.

Mr. Graham Wheelock is a seasoned mining professional and geologist with 32 years of experience in the gold, heavy minerals and diamond industries throughout the world. He spent the formative years of his career as a Geologist and Mineral Resources Manager with Anglo American and De Beers working in 25 countries. Later he served for eight years as Assistant General Manager and Acting General Manager at De Beers’ Namaqualand Mine in South Africa, with responsibility for a workforce of 2300 people and a 4.5 million ton per annum mining & processing facility. He was subsequently appointed architect and manager of De Beers’ global diamond supply model at the De Beers’ Corporate Headquarters.

In 2005, after leaving De Beers, Mr. Wheelock co-founded Gem Diamonds with seed capital of US$10 million. Gem Diamonds listed on the Main Board of the London Stock Exchange in 2007 with a market capitalisation of US$1.2 billion. He became its first resident Executive Director in London. Charged initially with its business development strategy, he led the Gem Diamonds’ acquisition of the Letseng Mine, producer of the biggest and most valuable diamonds in the world, as well as a number of other mines and development projects in Africa, Australia and the Far East. In 2008 Gem Diamonds employed 3500 people and had revenues of US$296 million. Mr. Wheelock was a member of the team that successfully doubled Letseng’s production to 5.5 million tons per annum, increased annual diamond output at the Elledale Mine in Australia from 150 000 to 600 000 carats, and constructed the underground Gaghoo Mine in Botswana from scratch. In 2013, Mr. Wheelock left Gem Diamonds to pursue interests in other sectors of the mining industry.

About IC Potash Corp.

ICP has demonstrated a low-cost method to produce sulfate of potash (“SOP”) from its 100%-owned Ochoa polyhalite deposit in southeast New Mexico and seeks to become a primary, long-term producer of SOP. SOP is a non-chloride potash fertilizer widely used in the horticultural industry and for high value crops, such as fruits, vegetables, tobacco and potatoes. It is applicable for soils where there are substantial agricultural activity, high soil salinity, and in arid regions. The Ochoa Project has access to excellent local labor resources, low-cost electricity and natural gas, an approved non-potable water source, rail lines, and the Port of Galveston, Texas. ICP’s land holdings consist of approximately 98,500 acres of federal preference right potassium leases, federal subsurface potassium prospecting permits and State of New Mexico potassium mining leases. For more information, please visit

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain information set forth in this news release may contain forward-looking statements that involve substantial known and unknown risks and uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of ICP to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements that use forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “potential” or the negative thereof or other variations thereof or comparable terminology. Such forward-looking statements include, without limitation, the need for additional mine development expertise in management, reserve estimates, ICP’s expected position as one of the lowest cost producers of SOP in the world, the timing of receipt and publication of ICP’s environmental permits, the sufficiency of ICP’s cash balances, the timing of production, and other statements that are not historical facts. These forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, certain of which are beyond the control of ICP, including, but not limited to, risks associated with hiring and retaining personnel, mineral exploration and mining activities, the impact of general economic conditions, industry conditions, dependence upon regulatory approvals, the uncertainty of obtaining additional financing, and risks associated with turning reserves into product. Readers are cautioned that the assumptions used in the preparation of such information, although considered reasonable at the time of preparation, may prove to be imprecise and, as such, undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements.

IC Potash Corp.
Mr. Sidney Himmel, 720-633-9005
President and Chief Executive Officer


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