[Saskatchewan] Expansion project will make K3 world’s largest potash mine – by Bruce Johnstone (Regina Leader-Post – May 27, 2015)

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REGINA — Mosaic Potash’s recently announced $1.7-billion expansion project at its K3 potash mine at Esterhazy will increase production capacity from three million tons to 21 million tons by 2024, according to Lawrence Berthelet, director of capital expansion for Mosaic Potash.

“(This project) will make K3 the largest, most competitive potash mine in the world,” Berthelet said Tuesday at a Saskatchewan Mining Week presentation in Regina.

Following his presentation, Berthelet said “the expanded project will allow us to … expand capacity to give us more miners at the (mine) face and more infrastructure to deliver more tons. It allows us … to maximize the capacity of that K3 facility.’’

Begun in 2009 at a cost $1.5 billion, K3 was designed to be expanded through several stages. In March, Mosaic announced that the expansion project would go ahead, bringing total investment at the K3 site to $3.2 billion.

The expansion project will create more than 300 construction jobs a year — 600 at peak construction — during the eight-year development period. K3 will consist of two shafts, mine development and surface facilities. Sinking of the shafts began in 2013 and is expected to continue through to 2016, at which time the potash seam will be reached and mine development will begin.

“We’ll continue on with the sinking of the shafts. This year, we do some work on the overland conveyor. And we’ll start to prepare for some of the long lead-time equipment for the underground (operations),” Berthelet said. “And we’ll do some preparatory engineering on the south headframe and infrastructure upgrades that will be required.’’

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