The Lower Saxony Authority for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG) has received application documents from K+S KALI GmbH for a planning approval procedure in connection with the possible resumption of potash extraction and production at the company’s Siegfried-Giesen reserve mine near Hildesheim. In submitting the about 90 document files to Andreas Sikorski, Director of the LBEG, the Chief Executive of K+S KALI GmbH, Dr Ralf Diekmann, said: ‘We have already put a huge amount of effort into this and we are now starting out on the next step towards obtaining approval for the resumption of domestic raw materials production’.
According to statutory requirements the project must be supported by a general operating plan with integral environmental impact assessment. The plan for resuming mining operations at the Siegfried Giesen reserve mine has to take into account a number of important aspects relating to the prevention and mitigation of any disturbance to the residents, landscape and ecosystem of the area. The submission of the application documents will be followed by a public disclosure of the project and the involvement of other authorities and nature conservation groups. Any objections and comments can be submitted to the LBEG for discussion at a future date. On this basis the LBEG will then reach a decision ruling on the admissibility of the project.
On 22 November 2013 the Hildesheim District Administration, as the responsible authority, established in a preliminary regional planning procedure, which included an environmental impact assessment, that the overall project was consistent with regional planning requirements.
Dr Diekmann also indicated that K+S could only come to an investment decision ‘once the results of the planning approval process were known and on the basis of the economic and market conditions prevailing at that time.’ This would probably be sometime in early 2016. Given a construction time of five to six years it appears that from today’s perspective potash production would not be resumed until 2021 at the earliest.
In order to secure its raw materials base K+S is engaged in an ongoing survey programme to identify the deposits that would be most suitable for developing additional production capacity. These investigations also extend to indigenous potash deposits, including the Sarstedt salt stock in the Hildesheim area. Potash production at the local Siegfried-Giesen mine was halted in 1987 for economic reasons. A feasibility study conducted between 2010 and 2012 indicated that re-opening the Siegfried-Giesen facility was technically possible and ecologically proportionate and that the operation would potentially make good economic sense. A project group engaged by K+S in Hildesheim has been working on the application documents for the approval process since mid-2012. The findings of the regional planning procedure were concluded in 2013 and the mine planning approval process has now commenced with the submission of the application documents. (K + S Kali GmbH/Si)