23 December 2016

Deep-well injection application approved with restrictions

Greater disposal safety at the Werra plant

On December 23, 2016 the Kassel Regional Council approved the continued deep-well injection of saline wastewater from potash production at the Werra plant. The long-awaited water law permit will be valid from January 1, 2017 until December 31, 2021 and enables an annual volume of 1.5 million cubic meters to be injected – two million cubic meters had been applied for on average for the years 2016 - 2021. The permit also includes a number of ancillary provisions. Assuming a hydrological normal year, full production at the Werra plant should almost be possible in 2017. As of 2018, the commissioning of the new KCF processing plant will have a positive impact on the situation regarding disposal.

“The employees of the Werra plant and our entire Company have gone through a period of uncertainty lasting many months,” says Norbert Steiner, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of K+S Aktiengesellschaft. “We are all pleased that this important disposal channel will continue to be available from January onwards, even if not to the extent we had requested and considered approvable. Our objective is to have uniformly continuous full production at all sites. However, to achieve this in low water level periods as well – particularly in 2017 – will remain a major challenge.” If the currently prevailing low water level continues, the resumption of full production at the Hattorf site might not initially be possible, despite the approval received.

Additional measures for wastewater disposal

To avoid production limitations, K+S is working intensively to realize additional wastewater disposal measures. Approvals are held for temporary storage of saline solutions at the Springen mining field (Merkers mine) as well as for discharging water collected from tailings piles into the decommissioned K+S Bergmannssegen-Hugo mine (in the Hanover region). Added to this is the expansion of basin capacities on site, which increases the flexibility of wastewater management even more. However, from today’s perspective the implementation of additional measures currently being examined still requires some time. Technical questions must be resolved, approvals obtained and infrastructural adjustments subsequently made. Against this backdrop, deep-well injection remains an indispensable disposal channel.

Further wastewater mitigation as of 2018

“We will work consistently to further reduce the impact on the environment associated with the extraction of raw materials where possible, and to develop solutions for this,” Steiner stresses.

The new processing plant (KCF) is already under construction. K+S is investing a further about 180 million euros in this project alone. As a result of the commissioning in 2018, the wastewater volume will be reduced by an additional 20 per cent.

Alongside this, the research promised by K+S focusing on the salt management plan of the Weser River Basin Association for tailings piles covering and for the storage of saline wastewater into discontinued mine areas are being pursued intensively; the regional planning procedure for a long-distance pipeline to the Upper Weser is in progress. Implementing all these projects will require further high capital expenditure. “Our objective is the long-term economic continuance of potash production in Germany under high environmental standards on an international comparison,” Steiner concludes.

Drinking water not jeopardized

One important question in deciding on the application of April 2015 was whether a danger to drinking water can be ruled out if deep-well injection continues. For this purpose, K+S has – in addition to the already available monitoring instruments – developed a numerical 3-D groundwater model in cooperation with well-respected specialist offices, enabling statements on the saline water remaining in the underground as well as forecasts to be made up to the year 2060. Results show that adverse effects of deep-well injection on drinking water can be ruled out.

About K+S

K+S is an international resources company. We have been mining and processing mineral raw materials for more than 125 years. The products we produce from them are used worldwide in agriculture, food and road safety and are important elements in numerous industrial processes. Potash and salt are integral nutrients for the megatrend of a constantly growing and increasingly prosperous global population striving for a higher standard of living. This will result in increasing consumption of mineral resources. We serve the resulting growth in demand from production sites in Europe, North America and South America as well as through a global distribution network. K+S is the world’s largest salt producer and one of the top potash providers worldwide. With more than 14,000 employees, K+S achieved revenues in financial year 2015 of about € 4.2 billion and an EBIT of € 782 million. Learn more about K+S at www.k-plus-s.com.

Michael Wudonig

Spokesman

Phone: +49 561 9301 1262
michael.wudonig@k-plus-s.com

Michael Wudonig
Spokesman

Bertha-von-Suttner Str. 7
34131 Kassel
Germany

Phone: +49 561 9301 1262
Fax: +49 561 9301 1666
michael.wudonig@k-plus-s.com

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Thorsten Boeckers

Board of Executive Directors

Thorsten Boeckers
Board of Executive Directors

Bertha-von-Suttner Str. 7
34131 Kassel
Germany

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