The visible portion of a Saskatchewan potash mine is dwarfed by what lies beneath the sun-baked prairie.
The gate clangs shut, blotting out most of the summer light filtering into the headframe. Gloved hands reach up to switch on headlamps; the beams jitter across the walls, echoing the nervous energy inside the cage as it descends into the blackness below.
For all the size and complexity of its surface operations — a vast network of mills, conveyors, warehouses and loading facilities — the visible portion of a Saskatchewan potash mine is dwarfed by what lies beneath the sun-baked prairie.
It’s like a small city, mine general manager Leon Boehm said as he drove an electric vehicle through the sweltering underground air toward one of the Cory mine’s active faces, the business end of Saskatchewan’s most iconic natural resource extraction industry.
“Twenty-eight degrees in the shade. It’s like going to Cancun,” he added. Boehm spent 13 years at the former Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan’s Allan mine before moving to the Cory operation a few kilometres west of Saskatoon 11 years ago.
Warehouses, repair shops, conveyor belts for transporting the ore to the mine shafts, offices, a lunchroom and 36 emergency refuge stations are scattered along the 68 kilometres of road the company maintains a kilometre underground.
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