After five years of construction and billions of dollars, the K+S Legacy Project by Bethune held its grand opening Tuesday.
The solution potash mine is the first of its kind in more than 40 years and will create 400 permanent jobs according to the company.
The peak of construction saw more than 3,000 workers on scene.
A number of dignitaries attended the official ribbon cutting for the new facility including Premier Brad Wall.
“This is huge, it consolidates our position as an international leader of potash, think of 400 permanent jobs, good jobs, this is an employer of choice,” Wall said. “This is about fertilizer and food and Saskatchewan’s obviously a strategic player in that potash area, in the fertilizer area and will be even more so now because of K+S.”
The Legacy name is being dropped and instead, the mine will now be known simply as the Bethune Mine.
“With our new location, we are making a huge step forward in the internationalization of our potash business,” said board chairman Norbert Steiner, in a release. “Bethune enables us to participate in future market growth, reduce our average production costs and strengthen our international competitiveness, which will benefit the entire K+S Group.”
Steiner has confidence behind the mine, which is 60 kilometres northwest of Regina. He said the costs of the production of products at the facility will be significantly lower compared to the current price of potash.
The operation is expected to produce the first marketable tonne of potash by the end of June. From there it will be travel by rail to Vancouver and on to markets in South America and Asia.
By the end of 2017, more than two million tonnes of potash is expected to be produced.
Canadian Pacific President and CEO Keith Creel said they’ll send about one-and-a-half trains a week from the site, explaining that one train has roughly 177 rail cars which carry 25,000 tonnes. He maintains the product won’t be difficult to move and get to market.
“There’s tremendous capacity between here and the Port of Vancouver,” he said.
While construction was happening on the mine itself, at the same time Creel said 10 million metric tonnes of earth was being moved to complete a 30 km track from the site to Regina. He called it a “monumental task” to have completed the engineering feat in a matter of about four years.
K+S started building the potash mine in 2012. The company spent $4.6 billion on the project. It is the largest mine in the company’s history.
Last June, media were invited on a tour of the facility to see the progress.