Mining waste

Reduction of the piling and avoidance of solid residues is a Group-wide goal at K+S. Solid residues occur in mining during the extraction and processing of crude potash salts. Disposal on tailings piles depends on the conditions at the individual locations and aims to minimise the impact on the environment through development of new technology.

Comprehensive monitoring programmes measure and monitor the potential impact of tailings piles on water, air and soil. The resulting data generated is available to the licensing authorities at all times. Regular inspections are also carried out to monitor tailings pile operation. The authorities are given detailed information about the planning and implementation of measures.

The extension of existing tailings piles is unavoidable in order to secure potash production in the long term. Comprehensive compensatory and replacement measures are provided for in connection with the tailings pile expansions. The compensatory measures include long-term projects that aim to create new biotopes for fauna and flora or upgrade existing ones. Reforestation will also be carried out where possible in areas deemed to be of poor quality from a nature conservation perspective to conserve usable agricultural areas. Comprehensive species conservation measures will be carried out and new habitats created in neighbouring areas. Medium-sized inoperative tailings piles have been successively covered as part of our strategy for legacy tailings piles in an effort to avoid and minimise the long-term impact on nature and the environment.

The covering and greening of the tailings piles is essential for reducing saline wastewater in the future. If the tailings piles are not covered, rainfall gives rise to saline wastewater that must be collected in the side ditches and disposed of. Greening the surface piles significantly increases the evaporation capacity of the tailings pile surface, reducing the tailings pile runoff by up to 80 percent.

Our targets by 2030

  • From 2030, K+S will be able to use three million tonnes of residue per year for purposes other than the raising of tailings piles. This will be possible through alternative use of the tailings pile material and avoiding residue by increasing the raw material exploitation.

By 2030 we aim to cover another 115 hectares of tailings pile surface area, further reducing or preventing tailings pile runoff. This involves covering tailings piles that will be raised in addition to the current cover (approx. 70 hectares). By 2030 we will thus have covered a total of 225 hectares of tailings pile surface area. The tailings pile surface area covered relates to the contact surface of the tailings pile that is relevant for reducing the tailings pile runoff.

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