NEWS FROM THE FIELD
BHP approves Jansen potash mine
BBHP/Government of Saskatchewan - The Jansen Stage 1 (Jansen S1) potash project has been approved by BHP.
The resources company, which has its global headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, announced in mid-August it is investing $7.5 billion to build Jansen S1. The provincial government says it is “the single largest economic investment ever made in Saskatchewan's history.”
Jansen S1 includes the design, engineering and construction of an underground potash mine and surface infrastructure including a processing facility, a product storage building and a continuous automated rail loading system. About half of all the engineering required for Jansen S1 has been completed, which BHP said significantly de-risked the project.
About $5.7 billion has been invested so far on engineering and procurement activities as well as work to prepare for the Jansen S1 underground infrastructure. Of that, $3.8 billion was for constructing two shafts and associated infrastructure at the site. That work is to be completed in 2022. BHP says Jansen S1 “is located in the world’s best potash basin.” It is expected to produce approximately 4.35 million tonnes of potash a year and has potential for further expansions (subject to studies and approvals). “Potash provides BHP with increased leverage to key global mega-trends, including rising population, changing diets, decarbonization and improving environmental stewardship,” explains a news release on the investment announcement.
Construction is expected to take six years, followed by a ramp-up period of two years with first ore targeted in the 2027 calendar year. The mine is expected to operate up to 100 years.
Nutrien confident in potash demand despite BHP's massive Jansen project Reuters – Nutrien expects global demand for potash to grow by two to three per cent a year until close to 2030.
Canada’s largest potash producer remains confident of this as BHP announced its decision to proceed with the Jansen Stage 1 project.
“It will take another decade for Jansen to have significant production,” Ken Seitz, chief executive of Nutrien Potash said in a statement.
That mine is to produce 4.35 million tonnes of potash per year from 2027, adding millions of tonnes of potash a year to the global supply. Canada produced 21 million tonnes in 2019, accounting for more than 31 per cent of global supply.
Potash is a key element in plant nutrition that also makes crops more drought resistant. Farmers in Asia are expected to use more affecting global demand, which by 2030, is expected to be able to absorb this growing supply, said Morningstar analyst Seth Goldstein.
“Potash has one of the best demand outlooks of any fertilizer out there,” Goldstein said.
Sask. helium company one step closer to production
BCTV Regina – Drilling being done in the Climax area in southwest Saskatchewan is intended to bring Royal Helium closer to production. Drilling at its Climax-4 site began Aug. 7 to target new regality helium in the area.
“The level of resource here is unparallelled in our view to any other jurisdiction in North America,” said the president and CEO of Royal Helium, Andrew Davidson.
Davidson said the first three drill rigs were used for exploration, but Climax 4 is being used to find the best way to get wells into production. “Once we are done with our work here, we get to come back to this area and hit it hard and get this helium flowing,” Davidson added.
Each site costs Royal Helium about $1.5 million to build.
“Once we turn on the wells, we expect to have that $1.5 million back in about six months and then the wells will last for about 12 years,” Davidson said. Davidson said the goal is to build a well in the near future to produce the helium needed in variety of industries.
“The largest use in North America is in MRI machines where it is used to cool the magnets and create the imagery that the doctors are looking for,” Davidson said.
“More common place uses would be welding, deep sea diving, manufacturing of high-tech electronics like fibre optic cables, semi conductors, microchips. It’s used in every space launch, every space shuttle that goes up uses helium in the process.”
Tailings study at U of S reveals greater risks
BCanadian Mining Journal - The risk that tailings hold for the environment have been found to be greater than previously thought by a group of scientists from Canada, Morocco and Belgium.
Tailings samples were examined by the team using the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan. The samples were from the Joutel gold mine in northern Quebec, which has been closed since 1994.
Some weathered samples were taken from just below the surface of the tails while some fresh samples were from beneath the water table.
It was determined using the SGM beamline at the CLS and other technologies that there were significant differences between them.
A hardpan layer protected the deeper samples and did not leave them exposed to air or water. They were neutral and pose little risk to the environment. The sample from beneath the water table was acid-generating and leached harmful amounts of metals into the groundwater.
Years of weathering is necessary to create secondary minerals in tailings, the authors determined. The researchers say these results show that lab testing done 20 years ago to determine the risks of leaving tailings after mine closure were inadequate.
Newcor mine near Creighton under remediation
BToronto Star/The StarPhoenix – Remediation work to mines near Creighton in northeast Saskatchewan is moving ahead with the cost of that work being announced.
Newcor sits on the eastern shore of Douglas Lake, about three kilometres southwest of Creighton. It is one of six non-uranium mines the province has prioritized for cleanup. Two others, the Vista and Western Nuclear sites, are also a stone’s throw away from Creighton.
In April, the province said studying all six sites will cost around $1.2 million and will likely conclude in 2025.
Newcor is considered the highest-risk site, due to its proximity to Creighton and Douglas Lake, a Ministry of Environment spokeswoman said.
The Government of Saskatchewan is paying two companies roughly $1.6 million to do the work there. QM Points LP, a joint venture between QM Environmental and Points Athabasca Contracting, will receive $1,363,000, while SNC-Lavalin will get $242,000 to remediate the site.
The work at Newcor, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of October, aims to stop contaminants from entering Douglas Lake. It includes a permanent concrete cover over the mine shaft opening. Vegetated soil and an engineered geotextile liner will also cover contaminated waste rock. Vista is the third-most prioritized site behind Newcor and Western Nuclear, according to the ministry. The province will pay SNC-Lavalin $200,000 to develop an action plan and determine a long-term timeline for the Vista mine’s remediation, which will cost roughly $1.7 million to remediate. Many of the abandoned mine sites were left “in shambles,” said Creighton Mayor Bruce Fidler.
He hopes remediation will bring more economic activity to the community, as the projects rely on contractors and local businesses.
Remediation may also eventually encourage community outdoor recreation, marking a return to the mine site’s natural beauty from “busted up concrete pads,” Fidler said.
“We’re definitely looking forward to having these projects, and improving the environment,” he added.
“We hope it will be (brought) back to nature where people go and walk around and enjoy the area without stumbling over old, broken cement.”
The province is responsible for 33 non-uranium abandoned mines in northern Saskatchewan, ranging from high-priority sites to small exploration shafts and trenches. Since 2019, the province has paid at least $504,000 to SNC-Lavalin to study underground mine sites.
Magnitude 3.9 earthquake felt in southeast Sask.
BCKOM/Global News/Classic 107 – Two earthquakes were recorded in August in the Langenburg area.
Officials with Earthquakes Canada say a 3.9 magnitude tremor was recorded 29 kilometres south-southeast of Langenburg near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border on Aug. 10. Larry Long, senior vice-president of potash operations for Nutrien, confirmed one with the epicentre north of the Rocanville mine lease was picked up.
No damage was reported, but it was felt by people in the Spy Hill and Tantallon areas.
Then, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said a 4.0 magnitude tremor took place 28 km south-southeast of Langenburg on Aug. 11.
Dr. Simon Pattison, the Brandon University Chair of the Geology Department, first thought they were the result of potash dissolving in groundwater, but he quickly learned that theory did not check out.
"I started looking at the data so it's like, 'Oh ok, that's kind of pointing towards something potentially something different, much deeper than the potash deposits," he said.
Earthquakes are rare in Saskatchewan, but when they do happen, they are commonly the result of the potash movement and are small.
Pattison needed to look 10 km below the surface to discover the cause of these recent ones.
"Basically, these earthquakes were triggered by Precambrian basement fault movement. A classic type of intra-plate earthquake."
"The epicentre-focus of these earthquakes is near coincident with a singular Precambrian basement lineament-structure in the Churchill-Superior Boundary Zone," said Pattison.
The southeast area of Saskatchewan is no stranger to earthquakes. The most recent was a 4.1 magnitude quake recorded in August of 2019.
Saving fruits and vegetables
The StarPhoenix -- Nazanin Charchi, Engineer-In-Training, hopes to save more fruits and vegetables from being wasted after harvest using technology she’s working on to regulate ethylene emissions.
“Reducing the waste after harvest, especially in developing countries, can be a sustainable solution to increase food availability, reduce greenhouse gas emission and improve farmers’ living conditions,” said Charchi.
She is a University of Saskatchewan PhD candidate working with a research team in the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering. Charchi’s work is supervised by Dr. Jafar Soltan, P. Eng., professor of biological and chemical engineering in the U of S College of Engineering, and Dr. Ning Chen, a scientist at the Canadian Light Source (CLS).
Ethylene plays an important role in greenhouses, storage and warehouse facilities. It’s used as a plant hormone to speed up the growth and ripening process in greenhouses or growth chambers.
However, after a certain level of exposure, ethylene causes physical and chemical changes in fruits and vegetables that result in quality and production losses before and after harvest.
With the scientific support of the CLS and synchrotron facilities on the U of S campus, Charchi and her team have developed an ethylene-removal unit for installation in fruit and vegetable growth chambers and storage facilities. A process known as advanced oxidation can convert ethylene emissions into CO2 and H2O at room temperature, effectively purifying the air surrounding fresh food. The team estimates their process would reduce air treatment costs by 40 per cent.
They hope to commercialize their ethylene-removal process and operational unit for global use. It is also possible that similar processes could be developed in the future to remove mould, bacteria or other substances from produce storage areas, along with ethylene.
Each year, more than one billion metric tons of fruits and vegetables are harvested globally to feed the world’s population of people and animals. “The annual loss of fresh fruit by ethylene damage is estimated at 30 per cent, and vegetable losses reach as high as 40 to 50 per cent, leading to considerable economic loss,” Charchi said.
The research is funded by the U of S and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
Nutrien and EXMAR Partner in Building a Vessel Powered by Low-Carbon Ammonia
Business Wire -- Nutrien and EXMAR are partnering to build a vessel powered by low-carbon ammonia. Together, along with others, they will collaborate to select an ammonia engine and a supply system manufacturer, select a shipyard capable of building an ammonia-powered vessel, use Nutrien’s existing low-carbon ammonia supply from Geismar, Louisiana as a fuel and deploy an ammonia-fuelled vessel in 2025. Their aim with this collaboration is to significantly reduce Nutrien’s maritime transportation emissions and enable the commercial development of an ammonia-fueled vessel as a clean fuel to be widely adopted by the maritime industry. The companies anticipate that using Nutrien’s existing low-carbon ammonia will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 per cent. A reduction of up to 70 per cent can be achieved by developing low-carbon ammonia using proven, scalable, best available technology and permanent sequestration of CO2. Nutrien is one of the world’s largest producers of low-carbon ammonia. It has approximately 1 million tonnes of production capability through its Redwater and Joffre, Alta. operations, as well as its Geismar facility which has carbon capture and sequestration technology to reduce its ammonia’s carbon intensity when used as a maritime fuel.
Determining fix for flooding of Albert Street underpass
CJME - Several centimetres of rain that fell overnight in Regina in June raised more than the water level in the Albert Street underpass. That rain resurfaced questions from 2019 about work that would prevent future incidences of flooding in that underpass where multiple vehicles were submerged in the water. At that time, the City of Regina said that work would begin in 2021 or 2022. Helene Henning Hill, P.Eng., serves as the City of Regina’s sewer and drainage operations manager. She explained to reporters that determining an appropriate fix for the underpass will require patience.
“You can appreciate that we (have) a lot of infrastructure in and around Saskatchewan Drive and Albert (Street).
“In order to try and determine the best engineered solution to how we deal with the water at that point, it takes time for us to look at that,” she said.
“That process has already started,” she said. “We’re trying to figure out what is the best recourse to deal with the water at the underpasses.”
It was estimated between 50 to 60 millimetres (or about 2.4 inches) of rain fell between the night of June 10 to the afternoon of June 11, sending City of Regina crews to deal with 60 different service requests from those needing help to deal with flooding at homes and businesses.
City of Regina tests new bike lane system
CBC Saskatchewan - A solution has been found and implemented in Regina to develop more city infrastructure that supports cycling.
Shanie Leugner, P.Eng., the City of Regina's manager of infrastructure engineering, said that the City wanted "a lower-cost solution to install cycling infrastructure on low volume streets."
Reviewing best practices of similar projects in Canada and other parts of the world revealed advisory bike lanes.
Advisory bike lanes were installed on 14th Avenue with testing started in early July. Those travelling 14th Avenue see a centre lane and advisory lanes. The centre lane is used by those driving vehicles. They can be going in either direction.
Cyclists use the advisory lanes. However, when a motorist faces an oncoming vehicle, they move into the advisory lane to pass one another before returning to the centre lane.
The 14th Avenue advisory lane system is the first of three proposed phases in the city's east-west crosstown bike route. The City of Regina says the new lanes will be monitored over the remainder of 2021 and into 2022 before deciding if more advisory bike lanes will be installed.