PotashCorp Continues Expansion at Rocanville

PotashCorp of Saskatchewan announced in November plans for a 2-million-mt mine and mill expansion at Rocanville, Saskatchewan, that will raise the company’s total annual potash capacity to 15.7 million mt by the end of 2012, which is three years earlier than previously announced. By leveraging off the existing facilities and infrastructure at Rocanville, the company expects to complete the project in less than five years at an estimated cost of $1.8 billion—significantly faster and more than 25% cheaper than comparative greenfield capacity, it noted.

PotashCorp President and CEO Bill Doyle said, “With a global environment of growing demand and tight supply, potash consumers around the world need us to bring more product to the table, and this is our next step in meeting that need. The cost of a greenfield operation has continually escalated and at a very rapid pace. Our best estimate for a 2 million metric ton greenfield mine in Saskatchewan today is $2.5 billion, and that is only within the plant gate with no infrastructure requirements.”

PotashCorp regards Rocanville, in southeastern Saskatchewan, as an extremely valuable asset due to the quality of the potash deposit and its proximity to the U.S. market. The geology of the deposit allows the use of technically advanced potash mining methods, lowering production costs. To support this project, the company will significantly expand an area of the deposit adjacent to the existing Rocanville potash crown lease. One new service shaft, used to transport people and materials, will be sunk in this new area, while the existing service shaft will be converted to a production shaft. When the project is completed, Rocanville will have two shafts with ore-hoisting capability, substantially raising the volume of potash that can be brought to the surface. A new underground conveyance system will be constructed to transport ore from the new mining area to the production shafts. According to the company, this will reduce both the cost of the expansion and the ramp-up time, as only one new shaft will be needed and existing underground workings will partially support the increased production. Mining machines, underground services and infrastructure for power will be added as required.

A new mill that will process 2 million mt/y of additional finished product will be built adjacent to the existing mill. New offices will be constructed on the site of the new service shaft, while existing load-out, storage and onsite rail capability can be employed to handle the increased tonnage with minimal investment. The project will begin immediately after final permitting approvals are received.

Earlier in the year, PotashCorp announced debottlenecking and expansion projects at Patience Lake (returning 360,000 mt of idled capacity by 2009), Cory (a 1.2-million-mt debottleneck and expansion by 2010) and New Brunswick (a new 2-million-mt mine with ramp-up starting at the end of 2011).

Doyle said, “With the rest of the potash industry believed to be operating at or near capacity, we expect the additional capacity at Rocanville to be necessary to meet further demand growth. These projects, combined with expected other future debottlenecking opportunities at our existing Saskatchewan facilities, will raise our projected annual capacity to 15.7 million tons by the end of 2012 and 17.2 million tons by 2015.”

As featured in Womp 07 Vol 9 - www.womp-int.com