The $4.1 billion Legacy Project wrapped up a year of outstanding progress on time and on budget, with more than 60 per cent of construction complete at the end of 2015. This greenfield mega-project, the first new potash mine in Saskatchewan in over 40 years, remains on schedule to produce its first tonne of potash by the end of 2016.
“There’s very much a sense of accomplishment as we look back at 2015 and head into the final stretch,’’ says Kevin Brown, Project Director for Amec Foster Wheeler, the contractor in charge of managing construction at the Legacy mine site. “A big project like this comprises a large number of independent pieces. During 2015, many of those pieces were completed.’’
Brown says the launch of the early cavern development (ECD) program is the major milestone of 2015. ECD is the name given to the facilities that enable development of drilled wells into caverns capable of supplying potash-rich brine to the Legacy Project’s process plant. K+S Potash Canada (KSPC) launched ECD on March 5 with the injection of water into production wells for the first time, thereby commencing mining operations at the Legacy site.
Thomas Papst, Vice President of Engineering at KSPC, directs commissioning for the Legacy Project Execution Team. He does so by managing an integrated team of engineers, technicians, tradespeople and operators as they work to bring facilities into operation. He says the success of ECD hinged on the effective work of this group and that work was contingent on two critical elements.
“Communication and trust are the key things required here,’’ says Papst. “You have to have everybody on board because when you’re commissioning, everything comes together.’’
While much of the ECD occurred underground, the structural steel program accounts for some of the biggest visible changes to the site in 2015. Visitors to the Legacy Project at the end of 2014 may have noticed preparatory work on the mammoth structural steel program, which will employ roughly five times the amount of steel used to construct the Eiffel Tower.
“The program really took off during the first quarter of 2015,’’ says Brown. “This is when the project started to display its vertical dimension.’’
Aerial photograph of the Legacy Project mine site, January 2016.
2015 also saw the completion of equipment manufacturing and material fabrication. The giant vessels seen trundling down Saskatchewan highways were eventually coaxed into their permanent locations and the plant completed around them. In addition, the administration and maintenance buildings were finished, two product storage warehouses were 95 per cent complete at year-end, and KSPC’s rail loop and sidings were taking shape nearby. Meanwhile, Pacific Coast Terminals and KSPC broke ground on the most modern potash handling facility in the world at Port Moody, B.C. The work will be finished by the end of 2016.
Clearly, there are many moving parts to the Legacy Project. As Vice President of Controls at KSPC, Dr. Gerd Dahlhoff is committed to keeping it on time and on budget “no matter what.’’
“We need to stay focused on our target to produce our first tonne of potash by the end of 2016,’’ says Dahlhoff. “However, given the excellent work to date by our integrated KSPC-AMEC project team, our operation teams and our contractors, I have every confidence we will hit that target.’’
Local companies benefit significantly from the Legacy Project. Fifty-five per cent of direct contractors and 31 per cent of direct suppliers are from Saskatchewan. All major contracts had been awarded by the end of 2015.
Like many endeavours, regulatory requirements and applications are necessary before anything can happen. Eric Cline, Vice President, Land and Sustainable Development at KSPC, says the company applied for and obtained more than 50 permits last year, ensuring Legacy Project facilities are authorized and in compliance with all government regulations. Cline says the company continues to work cooperatively with the nearby Village of Bethune and its host municipality, the Rural Municipality of Dufferin, where KSPC is now the biggest ratepayer.
“We are proud to be a part of the community and happy to be generating a lot of economic activity here,’’ says Cline.
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