United States

Carlsbad West Mine

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Mine TypeUnderground
  • Potash
Mining Method
  • Room-and-pillar
Production Start... Lock
ShapshotThe West Mine is a high-extraction, mechanical room-and-pillar mine that was idled in July 2016 and placed in care-and-maintenance mode.


Intrepid Potash, Inc. 100 % Indirect

Deposit type

  • Evaporite


Deposit Type
The geology of the potash-bearing beds of the Carlsbad area has been well documented. Overall, the potash-bearing beds may be described as bedded sedimentary rocks, deposited across the Delaware Basin and Northwest Shelf backreef from the Capitan Reef. The depositional sequences that developed in the Salado Formation consist of repetitive cycles that can be recognized by changes in mineralogy, sedimentary textures, and structures. Two types of cycles are differentiated Type I and Type II. A complete Type I cycle ranges in thickness from 3 ft to 33 ft and consists of (in ascending order):

• A basal, mixed siliciclastic and carbonate mudstone
• Laminated to massive anhydrite-polyhalite
• Halite
• Halite with mud (argillaceous halite)

Type II is a thinner, less complete sequence and consists of halite that grades upward into argillaceous halite (Lowenstein 1988). The anhydrite-polyhalite beds are laterally continuous over large distances and are used as marker beds for correlation. Potash beds are not included in these sequences because potash is secondary and formed later than the basic depositional sequence.

The HB Mine, which was formerly mined on the 1 and 3 ore zones (Barker and Austin 1999), has been flooded and is currently being solution mined with brines to obtain potash from the remaining pillars.

In the Carlsbad Area, the potassium minerals, in order of decreasing abundance, are polyhalite, sylvite, carnallite, langbeinite, kainite, and leonite. Other potassium minerals occur only in minor amounts in association with the principal potassium minerals listed previously.

The minerals can be described as follows (Schaller and Henderson 1932):
• Polyhalite is the most abundant potassium mineral in the Carlsbad Area. Beds of nearly pure polyhalite have thicknesses up to 8 ft and beds a foot or more thick are numerous.
• Sylvite often has a dark red or reddish-brown color due to hematite inclusions. Sylvite without the inclusions is a milky white color. Sylvite is typically mixed with halite and where clay is present in the mixture, it is in bands distinct from the sylvite.
• Carnallite is massive and compact showing no crystal faces. Crystals where seen are typically less than 1 millimeter (mm) in diameter. It occurs in small blebs with halite and sylvite.
• Langbeinite is found in distinct tetrahedral crystals that reach sizes up to ¾ inch. It is typically associated with halite and sylvite and often some kieserite. It has a distinct pink color in most samples and has a higher compressive strength than sylvite.
• Kainite is massive with poorly developed fibrous fracture surfaces and has a characteristic honey-yellow color. It is found in narrow bands between sylvite and langbeinite and is apparently a result of a reaction between the two.
• Leonite is typically found in small quantities in mixtures of other minerals, notably kainite and sylvite. Its color ranges from colorless to pale yellow. It is also found with polyhalite and anhydrite, but the relationship is unclear. It has also been found as a secondary replacement for kieserite.



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Mining Methods


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Crushers and Mills

Milling equipment has not been reported.



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Potash k tons 191322
All production numbers are expressed as salt.

Operational metrics

Annual production capacity  ....  Subscribe400 k tons of potash salt400 k tons of potash salt400 k tons of potash salt400 k tons of potash salt400 k tons of potash salt
Ore tonnes mined  ....  Subscribe1,425 k tons2,532 k tons

Production Costs

Commodity production costs have not been reported.

Heavy Mobile Equipment

Fleet data has not been reported.


Mine Management

Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Mar 15, 2023
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Mar 15, 2023

Aerial view:


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