Potash is the name commonly used for the various salts that contain the element potassium, which is the seventh most abundant element of the earth and occurs mainly in heavy soils and seawater. The name potash comes from the old production method; when potassium salts were extracted from plant ash wash in water which was then evaporated in pots. Today, around 90 per cent of the global production of potassium salts is used for fertilizers.
In many regions of the world, potassium salts are extracted from large subterranean deposits that originate from dried out prehistoric seas. However, the Dead Sea is also rich in potassium salt and the Arab Potash Company in Jordan uses this natural resource as the basis for the production of potash.
Arab Potash pumps saltwater from the Dead Sea into large earth basins, where potash is created by evaporation. In order to limit the leakage of saltwater at one of the main dykes, Bauer International FZE, a subsidiary of Bauer Spezialtiefbau GmbH, was commissioned with the construction of 112,000m² of adjacent sealing wall with a set sheet pile wall over a length of 4.2km. The sealing wall with a width of 600mm is inserted between 18 and 30m deep.
The subsoil is presenting a special challenge: "Due to its special location directly on the Dead Sea, the soil is largely made up of salt, and the groundwater that is pending is completely saturated with salt," said Hassan Farhat, project manager at Bauer International FZE."
Two Bauer milling machines - a BC 40 and a BC 30 - and a gripper are used for the work. In addition, a total of 790,000m³ of soil must be moved as part of the dyke widening. The work is expected to last 20 months and is expected to close in August 2020.