The U.S. government has approved a mining project near a river in central Utah to extract a mineral used in fertilizer.

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Joe Balash says the mine will help make the country more independent.

Bureau of Land Management officials held a news conference Tuesday to announce a project that will allow Crystal Peak Minerals to extract potassium-rich potash at a lakebed called Sevier Playa.

In June, the Trump administration announced plans to expand U.S. mining nearly three dozen critical minerals including potash with streamlined permitting because such minerals bolster U.S. security and reduce the need for foreign imports.

Environmental activists and local leaders have expressed concern the project will threaten the area's solitude and residents' water rights.

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Joe Balash says potash is critical to the agriculture industry.

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