INDUSTRIAL MINERALS

Milestone moves a step closer to production

Western Potash Corp’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Milestone Potash Corp, has received the final engineering report on its proposed Milestone pilot plant project

Staff reporter
The approach to the Milestone project

The approach to the Milestone project

The report was compiled by Amec Foster Wheeler which was responsible for all site surface facilities, Agapito Associates Inc which was responsible for mining, and Milestone Potash Corp which took care of off-site utilities, permitting and engagement. The co-ordination of all project interfaces was managed by Amec Foster Wheeler.

The purpose of the report was to develop a full scope of engineering and procurement services as well as a Class 3 (+/-10%) capital cost estimate and operating cost estimate in advance of Western’s construction decision for the project.

The pilot plant was designed to have an annual production capacity of 146,000t of potash obtained through horizontal mining of the Prairie evaporites. The solution mining plan is based on the concept of ‘selective solution mining’ where the solvent is near-saturated with sodium chloride and partially saturated with potassium chloride.

Western said that among the advantages of the selective solution mining method are a lower CAPEX and OPEX compared to conventional solution mining. In addition, the selective solution mining technique has a lower environmental impact, consumes less water than conventional solution mining and does not produce salt tailings. Results of the pilot project will be used to determine the feasibility of construction and operation of a larger scale selective solution mining operation.

The total cost (CAPEX) to design, construct and commission the project as described in the report is C$88.3 million, which equals a competitive unit capital intensity per tonne of C$604.

Milestone Potash Corp is working towards optimising the project execution plan and minimising potential risks associated with the project. The company management will make a decision based on the project execution plan and the mitigation of the potential risks.

Geoffrey Chang, Milestone’s chairman, commented: “we are pleased to have completed all the engineering, which shows the technological and economic feasibility of applying innovative horizontal drilling methodology, selective solution mining and crystallisation pond techniques. We are very excited about the prospect of bringing this revolutionary new solution mining technology to Saskatchewan.”

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