Yancoal Canada vets new potash mine proposal

Residents of rural Saskatchewan, Canada were given their first look at a possible potash mine by Yancoal Canada Resources, a subsidiary of New York-listed Yanzhou Coal Mining (NYSE:YZC).

The company held a public meeting to introduce the proposed mine to inhabitants of Earl Grey, Southey and Strasbourg, CBC News reported last Thursday.

According to a project page on Yancoal Canada's website, the 2.8-million tonnes per year greenfield facility would mine the potash using the solution method, where the mineral is brought to the surface using wells instead of traditional extraction using underground mine shafts. The potash would be extracted from the Patience Lake, Belle Plaine, and Esterhazy parts of the Saskatchewan Prairie Evaporite Formation.

CBC said residents' concerns centre around water use. The company has a license to draw water from a nearby reservoir, and according to a company spokesman, it will need a maximum of 11 to 12 million cubic metres annually.

The spokesman as quoted by CBC said Yancoal would hire 2,000 people during construction and employ 350 workers to run the mine. It would also pay for infrastructure upgrades including paving a gravel road. If approved, construction would start in mid-2016 in anticipation of production starting in 2020. The life-of-mine is 65 years with a possible 100-year extension.

Yancoal says it has completed exploration, environmental assessment, a scoping study and a prefeasibility study, with a feasibility study slated for publication in early 2016. A detailed resource estimate was not posted on the website. However Yancoal says it currently holds 19 potash permits in Saskatchewan, covering approximately 5,364 square kilometres.