At the Bethune solution potash mine in Saskatchewan, K+S Potash Canada extracts potash crude salt which is further processed into three types of potassium chloride to be used as natural fertilizers and in a variety of industrial applications.
Solution mining is the process of mining underground water-soluble minerals by dissolving the minerals with water. The mineral-rich solution (called brine) is extracted from the ground and the minerals are recovered from it.
The potash-rich brine is pumped out of the cavern to the surface and from the well pad is transported using a pipeline network to the processing plant where debrining, drying, and compaction are carried out. Each well pad is connected with the processing plant via two pipelines respectively, water injection and a brine return pipeline. Both lines are monitored for brine solution leaks using distributed fiber optic temperature sensing cables from Roctest and Smartec. Each good pad is also equipped with a DTS station including a DiTemp DTS analyzer and DiView software to show results remotely and to trigger alerts into the SCADA system in case of critical events.
More than 100 km of a brine water pipeline between wells and the processing plant are currently monitored for leak detection using fiber optics technology aimed to proactively manage the safety, health, and environment and protect local biodiversity.