31 October 2022
The team at our Jansen potash mine in Canada recently celebrated the successful completion of the excavation and lining of the two 1000 metre deep shafts at the mine, the largest of their kind in Saskatchewan. It’s a big step towards bringing online the project which is planned to be the largest potash producing mine in the world, providing a rich source of potassium to keep soils fertile and maximise food production.
Sinking a shaft in Saskatchewan is an impressive feat. BHP worked with our partners to leverage the latest technology and innovative solutions for this ambitious project, which marks the first instance of mechanized shaft sinking in the world and entails artificial ground freezing to a depth of 800 metres! This ground freezing technique prevents water inflow and ensures ground stability during shaft excavation. Once excavated, a primary and final liner created a waterproof seal to protect the shafts from underground aquifers.
The shafts are one of the most technically risky parts of developing a greenfield project like Jansen and their completion will significantly reduce the development risk. Larger diameter shafts like these (7.3 metres in diameter) require outfitting only one shaft for stage 1, significantly reducing upfront capital. For future stages, the same two shafts enable options for multiple sequenced brownfield expansions of more than 16 Mtpa production, subject to business and regulatory approval.
“The team’s safety record and performance since January 2020 has exceeded our plan,” said Simon Thomas, President Potash. “Our approach to safety, work planning discipline and continuous improvement – along with our collaborative and integrated team approach – really shone in the final stages of this project.”