SOLUTION MINING – EMISSION-FREE MINING OPERATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES
The protection of natural resources is of essential importance in times of rapidly increasing populations and resulting shortage of agricultural land. Soil and groundwater resources play a central role for the production of food or feed of any kind. The intensive agricultural and environmentally friendly use of these resources must ensure sufficient income and sustainability of life for future generations. Mining projects often represent a particularly deep intervention into ecosystems due to their size as well as the most expensive treatment processes.
Conventional mines comprising of shafts and developed mining fields require the stockpiling of waste rock and in particular to potash mining, the discharge of brines from raw salt processing. In contrast, mining operations based on the solution mining method can be operated without major environmental impacts and lower security risks. While the solution mining for the production of rock salt finds application since more than 500 years, exist a procedure to produce potash using solution mining only since the 1980's. For solution mining drill holes are used to exploit the potash, launched from the surface into the deposit. The exploitation of the raw material occurs by the dissolution of the potash injecting solvents and creating so-called brine caverns. Currently, a number of mining projects in Carnallite deposits by the solution mining method are in progress around the world. Often these projects are located in sensitive ecosystems.
K-UTEC project and support actual a solution mining operation of a Carnallite deposit for a Chinese customer in South-East Asia. This work comprises a comprehensive geological and geomechanical modeling as well as stability analyses. Furthermore the cavern design and brine field layout as well as the planning of the brine processing and the plant design.
The present paper introduces this project as a case study. The application of a special solution mining procedure and processing design ensures an emission-free mining operation (Zero Disposal Plant). The emission-free operation is achieved by utilizing the full extent of the caverns to dispose the liquid solutions from processing. The presentation of principal salt processing and technical equipment will be rounded by information about the geology of the deposit. Since the deposit includes a number of sensitive minerals, such as Tachyhydrite and Bischofite the presentation comprise a lot of interesting items with special view at the brine field operation. K-UTEC designed and delivered a special blanket measuring system and a well cement according the request of the customer.
K-UTEC, a research and engineering company with more than 60 years of experience in the sector of potash and rock salt mining, developed the world's first solution mining operation for Carnallite in Germany more than 30 years ago. In recent times K-UTEC served in different solution mining projects worldwide, with special view at the environmental impact, as well as the optimal utilization of the deposits.
brine; Solution mining; Salts; Salt; Operation; potash; Deposits; leaching;