A massive new solution potash mine in Saskatchewan can see the construction finish line.
The $4.1 billion K + S Potash Canada (KSPC) Legacy Project by Bethune is nearly complete after ground was first broken back in 2012.
“Unbelievable,” described KSPC president and CEO Dr. Ulrich Lamp of how far the facility has come.
On time and on budget, the potash mine will be the first new facility of this kind in the province in more than 40 years.
The peak of construction is right now, with more than 3,000 workers on scene. The interior of the enormous structure is filled with pipes of all lengths and thicknesses. Scaffolding is set up in virtually every corner. Echoes reverberate through an empty storage facility bigger than a football field. It’s an eerie quiet considering the sound of machinery is constant everywhere else at the facility.
“But it goes really smoothly,” insisted Dr. Ulrich regarding the entire process of the build.
Media were invited to take a tour of the eventual solution mine on Tuesday. This type of mine sees special liquid shot deep underground into caverns, producing another salty liquid which is then brought back up to the surface. That’s heated, cooled and processed into potash. It’s then stored and loaded into rail cars.
That’s a rather simplistic way to describe an overly complicated process.
“I think what’s most impressive is just the fact everything from front to back is new and that’s only once in a lifetime,” remarked Sam Farris, VP and general manager of operations.
Despite the economy hitting a stumbling block as of late, where both the price of oil and potash are down, Dr. Ulrich is still optimistic the price will rebound.
“Higher would be always better,” he laughed.
He added once this mine will be in production for the long term, employing about 350 employees once construction is finished.
“This project is for 100 years. It’s not for 10.”
The first tonne of potash is expected by the end of the year. Not long after that, production will be ramped up to 2.86 million tonnes annually.