The facility will allow additional reusable resources to be obtained from saline solutions that could not be used until now. At the same time, it will reduce the wastewater volume at the Werra plant by 1.5 million m3/yr (approximately 20%). With the related volume of CAPEX at €180 million, the KCF facility is the largest individual protection project to date.
Burkhard Lohr, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, said: “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.
“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.
Priska Hinz, Hesse Environment Minister, added: “With the commissioning of the kainite crystallisation 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.”
Bodo Ramelow, Prime Minister, added: “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 to this, K+S claims that reusable resources will be obtained and saleable products will be produced. In this way, the company claims that the economy and ecology are being combined in an exemplary way. A review process has also been initiated, which is looking into possibilities for storing the high mineral content saline wastewater produced at the KCF facility at the Springen mine.
Regarding the sustainable production of potash on the banks of the Werra site, the company claims that, in addition to making progress over the past few years, it has started to take its next goals into consideration. The review program agreed with the Weser River Basin Association will be completed by the end of this year, with a focus 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.
Development to the point at which the technical process employed at the facility could be put into practice was the result of several years of development work at the company’s Analysis and Research Center (Unterbreizbach, Wartburg district), as well as at the Werra plant. The process allows for further reusable resources to be obtained from saline solutions that could not be used in the past and which had to be disposed of. K+S states that it will be possible to produce approximately 260 000 t 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. Simultaneously, the volume of wastewater at the Werra plant will be decreased by 1.5 million m3 to 5.5 million m3 (2007: 14 million m3). The construction of the processing facility, which included the integration of a new building into the plant structure at the Hattorf site, took 24 months overall.