In all the attention surrounding the price of gold and copper and oil, we sometimes ignore the industrial minerals – particularly potash. We shouldn’t, because the fertilizer industry is going gangbusters along with metal mining and the petroleum industry. With prospects looking great, POTASH CORP. OF SASKATCHEWAN has announced plans to move the expansion at its Rocanville operation in Saskatchewan forward by three years.
PotashCorp predicts that potash demand will grow at least 3% a year, more likely 4%. Putting $1.8 billion into an expansion at Rocanville will allow the company to take advantage of that growth. The money to expand an existing mine and mill will result in more capacity per dollar spent than it would at a greenfield project.
The Rocanville expansion will annually add 2.0 million tonnes of standard product to the operation by the end of 2012. Plans call for sinking a new service shaft and developing an area of the deposit adjacent to the existing Rocanville Crown lease. The existing service shaft will be converted to production. At that point the mine will have two production shafts and greatly increased hoisting capacity. The new mill is to be built adjacent to the existing mill, and the older plant will continue to operate.
Nor is Rocanville the only expansion project that PotashCorp has announced this year. The company says it will debottleneck and expand Patience Lake, near Saskatoon, adding 360,000 tonnes/year of output by 2009 at a cost of $92 million. The Cory mine, also near Saskatoon, is scheduled for a $750-million debottlenecking and expansion to add 1.2 million tonnes/year by 2010. A new $1.5-billion underground mine with ramp access is to be built at the New Brunswick mine, near Sussex, N.B., adding 2.0 million tonnes/year of product by the end of 2011.
With another 2.0 million tonnes added to Rocanville, PotashCorp says that by the end of 2012 its projected annual capacity will be 15.7 million tonnes; and by 2015 the total will rise to 17.2 million tonnes.
Although the timing and estimated cost of adding even more capacity at Rocanville have not yet been announced, that possibility is being considered with the addition of compaction facilities. Expansion of compaction capacity is already underway at the Lanigan, Cory and New Brunswick mines.
As long as farmers fertilize their fields to feed a growing global population, PotashCorp is going to be a major supplier on the world stage.