The Nezhinsky potash mine and processing complex under construction in the Lyuban region of Belarus will be the country’s second such facility after the world-famous Belaruskali potash mine complex.
Slavkaliy, a subsidiary of Safmar Group, is developing the project with an estimated investment of £1.35bn ($2bn).
While the construction works were started in 2017, the first layer of potash salt was extracted at a depth of 567m in April 2020.
Scheduled to commence commercial operations by the end of 2021, the Nezhinsky complex is expected to produce up to two million tonnes (Mt) of potassium chloride (KCl) a year.
Location, geology, and mineralisation
The Nezhinsky potash mine is located approximately 180km south of the Minks region, and 6km south-west of the Lyuban district, in the Republic of Belarus.
The project lies in the Nezhinsky section of the Starobinskoye potash salt deposit, adjacent to the eastern part of the Belaruskali potash mine.
The potash salt deposits are composed of layers of rock salt along with the alternate layers of clay-carbonate rocks and sylvinite.
Nezhinsky potash reserves
The Nezhinsky potash mine is estimated to hold approximately 829Mt of potash salt reserves.
The potassium chloride (KCl) to be produced by the project will have a grade value of up to 98%.
The Nezhinsky potash mine project utilises the mechanised tunneling method using shaft boring roadheader (SBR) machines to access the potash salt resources.
The shaft boring roadheaders (SBR) are being used as an alternative to the conventional drilling and blasting methods for salt extraction.
The project involves two SBR machines, namely Ulyana (the cage shaft) and Olga (the skip shaft) to support the potash salt extraction process.
The extracted potash salt resources will be lifted in buckets to the surface for processing.
The other infrastructure facilities for the Nezhinsky potash mine include a 43km-long gas pipeline, water supply system, warehouses, administrative buildings, a 30km railway corridor connecting the Urechye station, a 110/10 kV step-down substation, switchgear building, transformer, and a 3.8km-long access road.
The project also involves the construction of a modular boiler house for a future combined heat power plant (CHPP) of 60MW capacity.
Finance and off-take agreement
Belarusbank and China Development Bank (CDB) signed a loan agreement worth £944.72m ($1.4bn) for the Nezhinsky potash mine project in June 2016.
Slavkaliy is also investing approximately £404.88m ($600m) company-owned funds for the development of the Nezhinsky mine.
The Nezhinsky potash mine’s entire output will be exported to China under a 25-year off-take agreement.
China State Energy Engineering Corporation is the general and principal contractor of the Nezhinsky potash mine project.
Redpath Deilmann (formerly Deilmann-Haniel) was contracted for shaft sinking and drilling operations at the project site, while Herrenknecht received the order for the design and manufacturing of two shaft boring roadheaders (SBR) for the project.
FLSmidth was awarded a contract worth £40.36m ($52.03m) for the delivery of liquid-solid separation equipment in February 2020.
Thyssen Schachtbau was engaged for lifting and installation operations in May 2019, while SIEBTECHNIK TEMA was contracted for the supply of SHS pusher centrifuge equipment in April 2020.
China 15th Metallurgical Construction Group Company was contracted for the construction of potash product warehouses.
Nezhinsky potash mine project background
The investment agreement for the development of the Nezhinsky mine at the Starobin potassium salt basin was signed between Slavkaliy and the Government of Belarus in 2011.
A trilateral agreement was signed between Slavkaliy, Deilmann-Haniel, and China State Energy Engineering Corporation for the excavation of mine shafts and the construction of the processing plant in July 2017.