Environmentally friendly way to produce potash developed
A Canadian company claims to have developed an environmentally friendlier mechanism to produce potash, without generating salt tailings and requiring no surface brine ponds.
Gensource Potash, a Saskatoon-based firm, explains that the absence of tailings eliminates decommissioning risks, while not having ponds removes the single largest negative environmental impact of conventional potash mining.
The extraction method created by Gensource injects a hot salt (NaCl) brine into caverns to selectively dissolve potash (KCl). The subsequent NaCl/KCl brine collects in the caverns, to be collected and processed. KCl drops out through cooling crystallisation and the NaCl brine is reheated and re-circulated back to the cavern to repeat the process.
Meanwhile, the collected KCl solids are de-brined and dried out, before being compacted, sized and then loaded out.
Gensource says that its process has been carried out by a series of independent production facilities that are one-tenth the size of a traditional potash project, and that they can produce between 250,000-300,000 tonnes per year of the fertiliser.
Planned to be installed at the company’s Tugaske project, which is within the Vanguard Area in south-central Saskatchewan, the modules are said to use 75 percent less water per tonne of potash than conventional solution mining methods. They can also use brackish water sources, further reducing their freshwater usage.
Furthermore, the power at Tugaske is self-generated using natural gas rather than coal, which allows it to avoid up to 24,500 tonnes per year of CO2e of emissions.
The Rural Municipality of Huron, where the Tugaske project is located, recently granted it a development approval permit. However the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment ruled in 2018 that the project should be considered ‘not a development’ because it doesn’t trigger environmental impact assessments due to its ‘green attributes’.
Once operations begin, Gensource Potash says it is committed to selling, for at least the next 10 years, 100 percent of the annual production from the Tugaske project to Helm Fertilisers, a US-based subsidiary of Helm AG, who will market it directly to customers using its own infrastructure.
However, at present, the fertiliser company is waiting on its senior lenders, KfW and Société Général to approve financing. The firm says that it is also wating to have project financing coverage approved through Euler Hermes, it concludes.
De Beers passes Newmont to lead ESG ranking of global miners
The world’s biggest diamond producer may not be the first name that comes to mind in a ranking of top environmental, social and governance (ESG) performers. But that’s what the latest industry survey revealed.
De Beers scored the highest in London-based Alva’s quarterly rating of ESG perceptions this week gleaned from publicly available content from social media to NGO research. The unit of Anglo American Plc snagged the top spot in the first quarter from gold heavyweight Newmont due to an increased focus on equality and sustainability.
The report showed the mining industry as a whole lifted its ESG rating amid a string of greenhouse-gas pledges, which offset water management and waste concerns. Companies around the world, particularly raw-material producers, are stepping up sustainability efforts amid heightened scrutiny by the general public and investors. ESG and value-focused exchange-traded funds recorded net inflows of $89 billion in 2020, almost three times 2019 levels, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. scored the second-highest in Alva’s ratings report and showed the biggest improvement from the previous quarter due to its partnership with Johnson Matthey Plc to find more efficient uses of critical metals used in batteries.
Vale SA scored the lowest ESG rating despite reaching a settlement with Brazilian authorities over a 2019 dam disaster. Vale’s result “is a combination of greater visibility around the original negative story and then dissenting voices on the settlement itself,” said Alastair Pickering, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Alva.