Passport Potash Inc. has received approval for nine new exploration permits from the Arizona State Land Department, adding 4,703.66 acres of State trust land to Passport's land package. The Permits are on State Trust land sections that had been closed to development related to the proposed expansion of the Petrified Forest National Park, and are strategic to Passport's mine development. Seven of the sections lie within Passport's private landholdings, while the other two border the Passport/Hopi development area and abut the south border of the Park.
In early April 2013, Passport made a request to the ASLD Commissioner to open these nine sections to mineral exploration. On April 30, 2013, the Commissioner issued an order (Order No. 153-2012/2013) (the "Order"), finding that an "acceptable use has been proposed for the State Trust land" and opening the subsurface estate for the land to mineral exploration application. Passport submitted applications for the Permits on the day of the Order and received confirmation shortly thereafter that the Permits had been approved. Passport expects to shortly submit an exploration plan for these sections, and expects to perform the work necessary to include these sections in its anticipated upcoming application for a mining lease.
Passport Potash President and CEO, Joshua Bleak, commented, "We are very pleased with the action of the ASLD, and the speed with which Commissioner Vanessa Hickman made a decision to free up these lands for potential potash development. It is a testament to the strength of the Commissioner and her team, particularly in the minerals section, that they recognized the significant value these lands would provide to the State Trust for decades to come, which we believe is evidenced by the speed with which a decision was made. The Department has always indicated that they are supportive of potash development in the Holbrook Basin, and this action evidences that support."