A basic resource
Potash is the most common natural source of potassium and the term is often used to refer to the types of fertilizers that contain this element.
Potassium (K) is a key element in the development and growth of plants because its assists water retention, reinforces the roots and cell walls, improving the transfer of nutrients and increasing resistance to disease and infestation, insects and variations of temperature. It is sometimes called the “regulator” due to its participation in over 60 enzyme systems that influence crop quality.
The potassium in potash is one of the three most important components of commercial soluble fertilizers and is usually found combined with nitrogen and phosphorous compounds.
These fertilizers, known as NPK, are very effective in improving the performance of land which by its very nature does not have the ideal characteristics for staple crops.
Potash is used to nourish the soil. Farmers have the challenge of retaining the necessary nutrients in soil that they regularly cultivate and which, over time, loses its nutrients. In addition, there is poor quality land that need this type of fertilizer to boost its capacity and ensure the necessary properties to deliver an optimal crop.
There are various methods for extracting potassium bearing salts: underground mining or dissolution mining (sometimes referred to as in-situ leaching), and recovery from naturally occurring brines.
Underground mining is the most common form of potash mining accounting for over 80% of global potash production.
It is the extraction of mineral resources that takes place beneath the surface.
The most widely used methods involve the use of shafts, tunnels, room and pillar extraction, cut and fill mining and sublevel stoping.
The nature of our deposit means that we will be able to use the latest technology available for this method of mining to optimise extraction.
This extraction process consists of pumping or injecting a liquid solution (generally water and salt) into the layer of mineral, where the potassium chloride and saline mixtures that form the layers then dissolve. The dissolution process forms underground caverns out of which the solution is pumped to the surface where the potassium chloride is crystalized and purified into an end product ready for sale.
The number of caverns created will depend on the thickness of the potassium seams and the production targets. Some projects are looking to create over 100 caverns each year to support production targets.
This technique is completely different to the hydraulic fracturing of rock (so-called “fracking”) for the extraction of non-conventional oil or natural gas, often reffered to as shale gas.
The natural deposits of salt rich brines are pumped from shallow depths beneath the surface and fed into a series of large, shallow ponds or large mechanical crystallisation installations to ultimately form saleable potash via multiple process steps. The biggest salt brine production of potash in the world is located at the Dead Sea.
There are deposits currently being mined in Canada, Russia, Belarus, China, Israel, Germany, Chile, U.S.A., Jordan, Spain, U.K. and Brazil