Water

As a provider of mineral products, K+S uses water in many of its processes, ranging from extraction to production. Another of our goals is to develop products that allow for efficient use of water in their application. We extract salt from seawater and other saline waters by solar evaporation. On the other hand, saline wastewater is generated during certain production processes and from tailings piles. Our aim is to minimise water-related effects.

Saline wastewater

The extraction and processing of our raw materials and the raising of tailings piles in the potash industry gives rise to saline wastewater. In Germany, K+S is working hard on implementing measures aimed at lowering saline pollution in water bodies. Among these are measures for covering tailings piles and the commissioning of the kainite crystallisation and flotation (KCF) facility at the Hattorf site of the Werra plant in January 2018. These alone will lead to a further reduction in saline water by around 20 percent. As set out in the management plan and the Salt programme of measures of the Weser River Basin Association (FGG Weser), these measures will focus, for example, on stacking brine underground as well as on preparations for covering tailings piles in order to reduce the amount of saline tailings pile runoff dramatically over the medium to long term.

K+S has ambitious plans in the area of saline water. We are looking to achieve the following goals by 2021 and by 2030:

  • After 2021, K+S will no longer inject saline water below ground in Germany.
  • Furthermore, 500,000 m3 of saline wastewater from potash production in Germany will be reduced by 2030. This reduction will be in addition to the volumes generated by the KCF facility at the Werra site and does not include the reduction generated by the cessation of production in Sigmundshall in 2018.

Water extraction

We use fresh and process water in many of our processes. These range from extraction to production to the use of our products in sectors such as agriculture. Seawater and water from other saline waters are used in the production of solar salt. Locations close to the ocean also use seawater for cooling purposes.

A Group-wide water risk analysis was carried out for all relevant production sites in 2017 in order to identify water risks that could impact on our business activity. Among other things, we assess the climate-related water risks to which our sites are exposed. Using the Global Water Tool™ created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas of the World Resources Institute, K+S developed a water stress index at catchment area level for all major production sites. The results provide the concept for environmental management at the locations.

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