The Legacy mine site, located near the Village of Bethune within the RM of Dufferin, is the first new potash mine in Saskatchewan in nearly 40 years, and the name is a fitting one; many employees have come to K+S Potash Canada (KSPC) for the chance to be part of something bigger than themselves.
“They have a once in a lifetime career opportunity to build a mine from the ground up. When I started in 2011 there was just a prairie field. Every time I am at site, I see significant progress,” said Kim Poley, Vice President of Human Resources for KSPC. This once in a lifetime opportunity is something KSPC is using to attract prospective employees and they believe it is working. “Currently our KSPC payroll is over $30 million and when we’re in full production, it will be double that. Our goal is to hire local skilled trades and operations men and women,” Poley continued.
During the construction period, KSPC will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in municipal taxes to the RM of Dufferin. Once the mine is in production, this amount will rise to over half a million dollars per year. According to the provincial government’s formula, this money will be distributed to the RM of Dufferin as well as other nearby rural municipalities, towns, and villages.
More than 1100 workers, employed by over 50 contractors, are currently active at site. KSPC has teamed up with AMEC Americas, a highly experienced Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Management firm in the Canadian potash industry, to manage the project on their behalf. “We manage the contractors in their work, as well as the interfaces among contractors, and the construction services and facilities that tie the program together,” said Kevin Brown, Project Director for AMEC.
Even though they are two separate companies, the level of teamwork and quality of partnership between KSPC and AMEC is apparent. “About a year ago, AMEC and KSPC established an integrated team to manage execution of the project. The organizational structure is definitely unique but has been highly effective in dealing with the challenges presented by a project of this complexity,” said Brown.
The newly opened construction camp is currently functioning at about 650 of its 1470-person capacity. Brown said, “We have just added a new operational element to what we do. We provide accommodations and meals for the workers, as well as transporting them back and forth from the project site, so there’s a significant coordination effort there. It’s essentially like running a very large hotel.”
However, this is no vacation spot; everyone on site is working hard to fulfill Legacy’s legacy.
The project is humming steadily toward 2016 when the mine is set to begin potash production. “We have been constructing at the site for just over two years now, and by October of this year, we will complete construction of our cavern development facilities, which are required to begin development of the mine itself. We are also well into the concrete program for the main processing and product storage facilities. We’ll begin erecting steel for those facilities in September of this year,” Brown said.
The mine isn’t the only thing KSPC is building at the Legacy site; there is also something less tangible under construction. Poley said, “We are building a culture. We didn’t want the culture at KSPC to just happen by itself. We have an opportunity to actively engage our employees in creating the culture that we want and that will help us to achieve our vision and create a legacy. Everyone is working together, bringing all that experience. There are lots of really diverse cultures but also really diverse skill sets. People are taking the best of what they know and building it even better.”
Progress means thinking ahead and plenty of people are looking forward to the future, which includes a long-term, sustainable potash mine. Eric Cline, VP, Corporate Social Activity for KSPC, said, “We haven’t finalized our mine plan, but it will probably be a hundred year plan.” Besides the Legacy site, Saskatchewan’s potash is plentiful. Cline explained, “Saskatchewan’s potash resource is such that it could supply the world’s need for a thousand years with known reserves.”