EuroChem Group AG, the leading global fertiliser company, has announced that the first production train of its Phase 1 development at Usolskiy, south of Berezniki in the Perm region, Russia, remains on track to start later this year. The Group expects to begin ramping up production at Usolskiy as part of a staggered commissioning schedule during 2018. Seven continuous mining machines are working underground and crews began operating in the deposit’s two potash layers in late October 2017.
Once fully operational, Phase 1 will have a total annual production capacity of 2.3 Mt of muriate of potash (MOP), the most common potassium source used as a fertiliser in agriculture. Dmitry Strezhnev, EuroChem CEO, commented: “We are moving closer to our goal of Phase 1 potash production at Usolskiy, a significant landmark in our potash investment programme.”
Construction work continues on the beneficiation complex at Usolskiy and its three main sections – Grinding and Flotation, Drying and Compaction, and Thickening. Several facilities, including the water supply, heating and ventilation systems are awaiting certification. Boilers and other heating systems are being commissioned in preparation of the upcoming winter.
Clark Bailey, Head of the Group’s Mining Division, said: “We are currently on track to meet our combined production objectives for 2017/2018. To this end, our team is being trained on mining machines along with other equipment and processes and we are still recruiting additional employees. We will have about 2,000 people working at Usolskiy once Phase 1 is complete.”
EuroChem-Usolskiy Potash is mining sections of the Verkhnekamskoe potash deposit, one of the largest in the world. As well as the Usolskiy Potash project, EuroChem holds a licence to develop the Gremyachinskoe deposit in the Volgograd region of Russia, known as the VolgaKaliy potash project, where first production of marketable product is expected in mid-2018. Underground development continues and the site entered the potash layer in early October, slightly ahead of schedule. Further exploratory drilling confirmed previous estimates and established the thickness of the sylvinite seam at around six meters. As of early November, the site had already lifted and stored in excess of 1,200 t of potash ore to the surface. Together, the Usolskiy and VolgaKaliy potash projects represent a combined total investment of about $7 billion to date.