Fans of futuristic movies might say they look like twin propulsion units from a colossal spacecraft. But the two enormous vessels that were lumbering along Saskatchewan highways on flatbed trucks in November are actually evaporators that will be used to process potash at the K+S Potash Canada (KSPC) solution mine near Bethune. They may be the largest items ever transported on Saskatchewan highways, and there is more big equipment to come.
The two units, which are supplied by Veolia Water and were assembled in the Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) plant in Melville, SK, are 30 metres (100 feet) long, 10.5 metres (35 feet) wide, 11 metres (36 feet) high and weigh an astounding 209,000 kg (460,000 pounds) each. “Due to their girth, SaskPower provided an escort to ensure their safe navigation under and near power lines,” says Olaf Goitzsch, Logistics Manager for KSPC. He says four more evaporators are on the way.
“We ordered six evaporators of this size. Two are delivered, and the rest will come in sections to be assembled on site,” says Goitzsch.
The evaporators were “modularized” at the Melville plant from components manufactured in the U.S., according to information from B&W. About 80 Melville employees worked full time for 18 months on the project. B&W says extensive preparations for the move started two years ago and involved assistance from Saskatchewan ministries of the Economy and Highways and Infrastructure, as well as other agencies. Crews delivering the components left the plant in Melville on November 17, 2014 travelling west on Highway 15 to Raymore, where they spent the night. On November 18, they continued on to Highway 2 and then headed south to Highway 11. They entered the mine site via the heavy haul Legacy road.
The evaporators are not the only large pieces of equipment KSPC is trucking into the Legacy mine site – three large dryer drums from a different manufacturer are already on site, and two vessels called crystallizers were delivered on November 22, 2014 and January 8, 2015. “All these very large loads require time-, weight- and route-specific permits and accommodations that take months to finalize,” says Goitzsch.
“The evaporators and dryer drums, along with the crystallizers, will form the heart of the plant at KSPC’s potash solution mining operation,” says Karl Krenn, Area Manager, Evaporation, Clarification and Crystallization at KSPC.
“We get the liquid out of the earth and we evaporate and do the crystallization. That’s the first time we have the product in our hands,” says Krenn, “the rest is fine-tuning.”
As impressive as these giant vessels are, KSPC also understands transporting them to site has an impact on local roadways and the people who use them.
“We appreciate the public’s patience during this extremely busy construction period,” says Sam Farris, Vice President and General Manager of Operations for KSPC.
KSPC has signed a number of gravel road upgrading, maintenance, closure and compensation agreements with the Rural Municipality of Dufferin, according to information from Gene Cochrane, Construction Superintendent for KSPC. The RM will maintain all upgraded roads except the former Township Road 200—the main entrance road leading from Highway 11 to the mine site. KSPC maintains this 20 km route during the project period and uses it for all heavy hauls.
In addition to the agreements, Cochrane notifies RM officials when large loads will be arriving so they can warn residents of potential traffic disruptions.
“The Legacy Project does everything it can to avoid heavy haul deliveries coming at peak traffic times,” says Cochrane.