Saskatchewan producers mine potash in two ways: conventional and solution. Conventional mining usually occurs around 1,000 metres below the surface. Solution mining can access potash reserves at depths exceeding 1,600 metres below the earths' surface.
The majority of Saskatchewan potash is mined by the conventional mining method, where large mining machines are used to extract the ore by cutting tunnels into the ore body. The raw ore is then conveyed to a production hoist where it is transferred to the surface for processing.
In solution mining, hot water is pumped underground into the ore body under high pressure where it dissolves the potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl).
The resulting brine solution is then pumped back up to the surface for processing. On the surface the brine solution is directed to a crystallizer circuit or to a large cooling pond where the KCl is recovered.