A proposed potash mine near Southey – 58 kilometres north of Regina – has some area landowners worried about what lies ahead.
“We are not interested in this mine in this location,” said Thera Nordal, a nearby landowner whose home and business is located on the site of the proposed mine.
Yancoal, a Chinese-based company, wants to build a $3.6-billion dollar potash solution mine near the southern Saskatchewan community.
Robin Kusch, community and public relations lead for Yancoal Canada, told News Talk Radio the project is still in its early stages. Kusch said the public comment period concluded on June 6. A decision on whether the project can proceed will be made shortly, possibly in July.
While that takes place, landowners like Nordal continue to have questions and concerns about the project.
Right at the start of an interview with News Talk Radio, she identified subsidence, the motion and shifting of the ground, as being a big concern.
“That affects every facet of my life because not only is it my home but it’s my livelihood and my heritage that are all going to be affected by this mine.”
Nordal also identified some red flags when Yancoal attempted to purchase land in the area. She described it as a “divide and conquer” as opposed to what other mining companies have done in the past.
“This was more of a personal land deals, don’t talk to your neighbour,” Nordal explained.
Nordal claims the offers made by Yancoal were drastically lower than what other mining companies had offered in Saskatchewan in the past.
However, Kusch responded by saying, “these people are happy with the money we’ve offered them and that it is comparable or higher than what is seen in the industry at this point”.
Nordal said landowners wanted to meet with Yancoal to discuss the company’s land acquisition strategy, but were denied.
Yancoal responded by saying their team in Saskatchewan was extremely small – consisting of only five people – until a site was picked out and an environmental assessment was completed. The Yancoal Canada team was expanded in July 2015 so residents and landowners could meet with representatives face to face. Kusch said since that time, all requested meetings have been accommodated.
Yancoal Canada set up an office in Earl Grey – located just west of Southey on Highway 2 — in December, which is open to the public three days a week.
In addition, Nordal is not pleased with how landowners have been dealt with and informed.
“We were let know about the project by way of a come-and-go poster meeting in Southey in March of 2015.”
Nordal explained that is the first time residents got to see exactly where the mine site would be located, and if their property would be on that site.
To further address their concerns, landowners, including Nordal, requested a meeting with Herb Cox, Minister of Environment. Nordal said, instead, they were referred to other representatives with the Ministry of Environment. A meeting took place June 8 and Nordal maintains none of their concerns were “adequately addressed”.
Nordal said she does not want to see the proposed mine built in the area.
“We moved here for a reason; most of us are young farmers just starting our business. This project is not what we were looking for in our area.”
The proposed potash solution mine would use a technique where water is poured into wells to bring the potash to the surface. This is different from the conventional method of digging and extracting the mineral. The mine would need up to 13-million cubic metres of water every year – which would come from Buffalo Pound Lake – but that would be reduced if some is recycled.
If approved, the mine could be operational by late 2020 or early 2021.