The Milestone Phase 1 Project will be the newest and most innovative, environmentally friendly and capital-efficient new potash mine in Canada. By utilising advanced horizontal drilling techniques, the project will be able to initially target the high-grade potash bed, then by using selective dissolution, preferentially leach the potash to the surface. This will be the first potash mine in the world that will leave no salt tailings on the surface, thereby significantly reducing water consumption.
The drilling program will last approximately four months and will consist of six wells that connect to three caverns. Each cavern consists of an injection well under the potash bed, and connected withdrawal well which returns the brine back to the surface.
After successful drilling and with appropriate regulatory approvals, the caverns will firstly start ‘cold mining' to enlarge the caverns and saturate the brine with salt in preparation for production, followed by ‘hot mining' that will recirculate brine into the caverns and preferentially extract the KCl resulting in the build-up of an inventory of potash in the crystal pond.
By mid-2020 the process plant will be constructed and ready to harvest the inventory of potash in the pond. The plant will then de-brine, dry and compact the potash and truck to a nearby distribution centre.
Bill Xue, president and CEO of Western Resources, said: "Western Potash is very pleased to have reached this milestone on the project. Our strong project team enabled us to reach this milestone in line with our schedule. We are very confident that this project will lead to the world's first selective solution potash mine that leaves no surface tailings in Saskatchewan."