In 2015, K+S Potash Canada (KSPC) geologists used soundwaves generated by controlled explosions to create 3D images of the ore zone north of the Legacy site wellfield. Over the fall and winter of 2016-17, they took core-drilling samples from the a portion of that area and are now studying the samples to get an even better understanding of what lies below. “The 3D seismic gives you a general picture while the drilling gives the fine definition,” says Megan Frederick, Manager of Geology at KSPC. Data compiled through both sets of tests will go toward creating a detailed picture of the ore zone that will be used by the company to plan future mining operations.
For the most recent tests, oilfield contractors extracted core samples from four tightly spaced locations in the southeast section of the North Mine Plan (NMP) project. The NMP encompasses about 67 sq. km. of KSPC’s approximately 40,000 hectare lease and the drilling occurred in an area adjacent to – and roughly the same size as – the Legacy site’s existing wellfield. The NMP project operates with the assistance of Dr. Rainer Stax at K+S Group’s head office in Kassel, Germany.
Jared Galenzoski, Geologist at KSPC’s mine site and manager of the NMP project, says KSPC’s geology team is now busy analysing the core samples. While the full results won’t be available until this summer, preliminary results are positive.
“The analysis of these core samples will tell us about the quality of the ore zone, what level of grade is present,” he says. “What we’re seeing so far is encouraging.”
The Prairie Evaporite Formation, which hosts the three ore zones, is about 70 metres thick and lies 1,500 metres beneath the surface. It includes three layers, known as “members,” named Patience Lake, Belle Plaine and Esterhazy. Galenzoski says the core drilling takes samples from that entire sequence. The well spacing represents a tight hole spacing for the potash industry giving even finer detail to the selected area. “Given the density and spacing of the holes we drilled, this is a high level of confidence for the standards in the industry,” he says.
According to Saskatchewan law, the drillcores are the property of the Province of Saskatchewan. Galenzoski says that means KSPC must get permission from the government to process the cores. The company must send half of each sample to the government, which stores them in a special repository.
Once all the data have been analysed, the results are reported to senior management of K+S. “The information we provide will allow the mining group to go and pursue that additional potash resource in the future,” says Galenzoski.