How does a solution mine work?

Solution mining refers to the production of salt (or potash, or other soluble products) by pumping water into subterranean salt deposits, found in many parts of the world, dissolving the salts and pumping the brine to the surface for drying and further use.

What is a potash solution?

Potash (/ˈpɒtæʃ/) is the name used for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. The name derives from pot ash, which refers to plant ashes or wood ash soaked in water in a pot, the primary means of manufacturing the product before the Industrial Era.

How does a potash solution mine work?

It involves injecting a heated mixture of water and salt into underground caverns to dissolve the potash deposits. The brine (consisting of dissolved salts, potash and water) is then pumped up to the surface where the solution is cooled in crystallization ponds.

How much is potash worth?

Potash had an average price of $875/ton, 10-34-0 $906/ton, anhydrous $1,534/ton (all-time high), UAN28 $630/ton (all-time high) and UAN32 $730/ton (all-time high).”

What is potash solution mining and how does it work?

For potash solution mining, when the pond water is re-injected into the deep salt-bearing formation to extract potash, various microorganisms feed off the organic matter. In the absence of air (when the incidentally injected oxygen is used up) underground, the sulfate ion becomes a source of oxygen, leaving hydrogen sulfide (H 2 S) as a byproduct.

How much is a mine of potash worth?

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 2013 production value of marketable potash, f.o.b. mine, was about $649 million. The fertilizer industry used about 85% of U.S. potash sales, and the chemical industry used the remainder.

What are the environmental risks of potash solution mining?

Water use and contamination — Because potash solution mining relies heavily on pumping water underground, there are environmental challenges that miners need to take into account. The process itself is intensive in terms of water usage, and the contamination of nearby water sources like aquifers is a real risk if solutions leak.

How do you remove potash from a mine?

From there, a heated brine solution is injected into the deposit to dissolve potash salts. The dissolved salts are then pumped out of the cavern to the surface where the water is evaporated, either artificially or in solar evaporation ponds; salt and potash are left behind.