Hundreds turn out for Holbrook town hall on potash mining
The first public meeting on potash mining in the Holbrook area brought out hundreds of residents and many from throughout the region last night. Pat Avery, CEO of American West Potash and Josh Bleak, CEO of Passport Potash, each gave overviews of their company's status and plans. I joined Pat and Josh on stage after their presentations to participate in a Q&A session with questions from the audience.
Teri Walker, with the Arizona Journal, laid out the opportunities and challenges facing the community with the proposed construction and mining jobs and economic development.
The focus of the evening was economic development and many in the audience asked about jobs and opportunities to provide goods and services to the mines. Pat projected an operation employing 400+, both mining underground and processing the salts at the surface, with an annual operating budget of $400 million.
Questions were raised about the potential health impacts on miners and plant workers, on ground water quality, and air quality.
The event was organized by the Holbrook Business Development Group, a recently formed volunteer organization. I estimated 300-400 in the audience but one of the organizers estimated it between 400-500 [right, residents arriving in Performing Arts Center at the Holbrook high school for the town hall. My really lousy cell phone photo]. Overall, there was a tremendous sense of optimism, but with a recognition that something this big and this new in a small community needed to be thought through carefully.