Agrimin has selected Royal IHC to complete front end engineering and design (FEED) contract works for automated wet harvesting equipment at the Mackay potash project in Western Australia.
The Mackay project has been designed to use automated wet harvesters to collect and transfer raw potash salts from solar evaporation ponds directly to the processing plant in slurry form.
This technique was researched in the Mackay definitive feasibility study and supported by critical field data from Agrimin’s pilot pond test operations between October 2018 and June 2020.
Wet harvesting is used at some of the world’s largest sulphate of potash operations and IHC is experienced in designing and manufacturing dredging systems for wet harvesting solutions.
This technique will significantly lower energy consumption to transfer the raw potash salts by removing the requirement to truck dry salts, transferring rare salts to the plant via a pipeline.
It will also increase overall potassium recovery by harvesting two pre-concentration ponds to recover a portion of potassium-bearing entrained brine.
With harvesting occurring earlier in the evaporation cycle, this allows for reduced pond sizes and no need to take ponds off-line for harvesting.
This will lower Agrimin’s labour costs as the wet harvesters will be fully automated.
Royal IHC will complete the wet harvester FEED work over the next eight months, delivering detailed construction design drawings for the cutting tools and propulsion, slurry transport systems, hydraulics, electrics and field testing equipment.
When the Mackay project is fully operational, Agrimin aims to become a global supplier of speciality fertilisers to the market.
Mackay’s total drainable mineral resource stands at 123 million tonnes of sulphate of potash, with an ore reserve of 20 million tonnes.
Agrimin expects to produce 450,000 tonnes of sulphate of potash at Mackay over a 40 year mine life, with the potential for this to expand.