Jan 17, 2018
Werra Potash Plant: KCF Facility Commissioned on Schedule
Today saw a further milestone in protecting the Werra waters achieved with the commissioning by K+S of the kainite crystallization and flotation facility (KCF) at the Hattorf site (Philippsthal, Hersfeld-Rotenburg district). The facility will enable additional reusable resources to be obtained from saline solutions that could not be used until now and will simultaneously reduce the wastewater volume at the Werra plant by 1.5 million cubic meters, or about 20 per cent, annually. With the related volume of capital expenditure at 180 million euros, the KCF facility is the largest individual water protection project to date.
Priska Hinz (Hesse Environment Minister, 2nd left), Bodo Ramelow (Prime Minister of Thüringia, 2nd right), Dr. Burkhard Lohr (CEO of K+S, center), Dr. Rainer Gerling (Managing Director of K+S KALI GmbH, 1st left) and Christoph Wehner (site manager, 1st right) pressed the symbolic button for commissioning of the new KCF facility on January 17th.
“With our new KCF facility, we are creating a further important condition for the future viability of thousands of jobs in the Hesse-Thuringia potash district,” said Dr. Burkhard Lohr, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, speaking on the occasion of the commissioning of the facility. “The fact that we have invested almost half a billion euros in new facilities to reduce wastewater at the Werra site within a few years shows that we treat sustainable production seriously,” Lohr went on to say.
“With the commissioning of the kainite crystallization and flotation facility, the company has demonstrated that it is conscious of its responsibility for ecology and the economy in its environment. In addition, the facility marks an important stage in the continuous improvement of the quality of the Werra and Weser waters. I am also pleased that it proved possible to resolve the most important issues involving legal proceedings. As a result, the company will be able to work together with the State of Hesse and the Weser River Basin Association to reduce saline wastewater volumes. We, as the Environment Ministry, will continue to accompany K+S on the various steps and also take care that all needed measures which can benefit the environment will be implemented,” declared Hesse Environment Minister Priska Hinz.
For Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow, the construction of the KCF facility at the Hattorf site is a key element in the saline reduction master plan. “I am very pleased that with the reduction of the volume of saline wastewater, a contribution has not only been made to environmental protection, but important jobs for the region have been reliably secured at the same time. We are therefore achieving the goal pursued by the company and the state governments of Thuringia and Hesse of reconciling economic interests with environmental protection throughout the entire Werra potash district.”
In addition, reusable resources will be obtained and saleable products produced. In this way too, the economy and ecology are being combined in an exemplary fashion. “Today is a good day for jobs and for the environment.”
In addition, a review process has been initiated aimed at examining the possibilities for storing the high mineral content saline wastewater produced by the KCF facility at the Springen mine. “If we also manage to make underground storage possible, today’s success story would be complete,” was the wish expressed by Thuringia’s minister president for the future of potash mining.
Much has been accomplished – Further goals in sight
Regarding sustainable potash production on the banks of the Werra site, K+S has not only made great progress over the past few years, but has also begun to consider its next goals: The review program agreed with the Weser River Basin Association will be completed by the end of this year with a focus on new wastewater reduction and disposal techniques, at disused mine sites, for example. However, a start has already been made on long-term projects: The planned covering of tailings piles to reduce saline tailings pile runoff is being developed to the deployment stage by way of multi-phase testing and research is continuing – with the help of external specialists too – into techniques for reducing wastewater.
KCF facility overview
Development to the point at which the technical process employed at the facility could be put into practice was the result of many years of development work at the K+S Group’s Analysis and Research Center (Unterbreizbach, Wartburg district) and at the Werra plant. The process allows for additional reusable resources to be obtained from saline solutions that could not be used in the past and which had to be disposed of. It will be possible to produce about 260,000 tonnes of saleable products (potassium chloride, magnesium sulfate) from them, with the result that a further improvement will also be achieved with respect to the exploitation of raw materials. At the same time, the volume of wastewater at the Werra plant will be reduced by 1.5 million to 5.5 million cubic meters (2007: 14 million cubic meters). The construction of the processing facility, which involved the integration of a new building into the plant structure at the Hattorf site, took a total of 24 months.