The finishing touches are being put on PotashCorp Rocanville’s $3-billion expansion project, which will double its production capacity, making it one of the biggest underground mines — potash or otherwise — in the world, according to PotashCorp Rocanville’s general manger.
“Our planned production is about five million tonnes per year,” Larry Long told a Saskatchewan Mining Week breakfast here Tuesday. “Obviously, this will be dictated by potash markets, but it will be quite a change for us at Rocanville (located about 200 km east of Regina near the Manitoba border). We typically did 2.5 million to 2.7 million tonnes per year, so this is a giant step up.”
Long, a mining industry veteran from New Brunswick, said the eight-year expansion project presented many challenges and obstacles to overcome, including an “monster feature” — an unexpectedly large salt formation — which separated the new and existing potash ore bodies.
“We mined straight salt for over a year,” Long said, adding that 3-D seismic technology “doesn’t tell you what is salt and what is potash. There had to be a leap of faith that we were going to intersect that ore body on the other side.”
Fortunately, the PotashCorp team was able to reach the ore body “and it worked out,” he told the mining week session hosted by the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan.
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