Significance of Solution Mining to the Potash lndustry

CIM Bulletin, 1964

B. P. Edmonds Mining Manager, Kalium Chemicals ltd., Regina, Sask.

Solution mining of salt is not new. Before the time of Christ, the Chinese recovered salt by pumping water into salt beds, and developed techniques as good as, or better in some ways than, modern methods. Attempts to apply solution mining to potash have been made at several localities in the last fifty years. At present, there are four solution mining pilot plants in Saskatchewan. The potash and associated salt deposits in Saskatchewan occur under great thicknesses of sediments. Conventional mining methods are limited to a depth of 3,500 feet. This is because of the strength characteristics of salt-potash beds and the danger of uncontrollable flows of water should strain occur. This factor does not affect solution mining, so that the solution method makes available a vast reserve of potash deposits in Saskatchewan that are beyond the reach of practical shaft mining techniques. In the last ten years, Kalium Chemicals Ltd. reviewed previous attempts to solution-mine potash to determine why they failed, and tested numerous theories. Practical means of doing the job have been tested in the last two years, and a satisfactory technique is now known. Solution mining has more than doubled the available reserve of potash in Saskatchewan, so that these reserves are now adequate to meet world requirements for some thousands of years.
Keywords: Deposits, mining, potash, potash, Salt, Saskatchewan, shaft mining, solution mining, Reserves, Salt, Salts, Saskatchewan, Solution mining