Photo essay: Uralkali


 Photo source:slon.ru

The journey begins. At a depth of over 400 meters from the mine shaft directly to the workings of miners delivers "Mole". It is a 24-seater vehicle designed and manufactured by the Nizhny Novgorod "Technoservice" based on a shortened chassis PAZ-3205. Engine — four-aspirated diesel Toyota-5L. The remaining parts of the domestic cars. In mines operating speed limit of 20 km / h and only by special permission — 40 km / h


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Sami potash mines — insanely beautiful. And it’s a great business. The whole world has less than a dozen significant potash producers. Due to the extremely small number of fields all over the world, and even fewer — rich — the industry has developed a real oligopoly. Moreover, the five market leaders operate through two traders: Canadian Canpotex (representing the interests of Potash Corp., Mosaic and Agrium) and Belarusian Potash Company ("Belaruskali" and "Uralkali"). And this pair, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of world exports of potassium can suit almost limitless dictate prices.


 Photo source:slon.ru

The ore is mined using special rotary combines. Now "Uralkali" is technical re: he was the first in the former Soviet Union signed an agreement with an international company Sandvik Mining & Construction. Tests rotary combine Marietta 900 showed that its performance is more than 10 tons of potash ore per minute. Domestic cars do not give out more than 7 tons.

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It is here that formed the basis for the multi-billion dollar capitalization of "BRIC" (more than $ 26 billion). Costs of production tonnes of potassium chloride are constant and do not exceed $ 100. A spot price for it, for example, in South-East Asia have recently reached $ 535 per ton on the conditions of delivery to the port of the buyer. Can you imagine what must be the profitability of this business? Since 2006, the margin of the "BRIC" in EBITDA does not fall below 50%. A net profit margin in 2010 was 41%. Cellular company and producer of natural gas earn less. Now I think you are a little different eyes looking at the work of the rotary combine.


 Photo source:slon.ru

Before descending into the mine each employee is given a helmet with a flashlight and a filter self-rescuer (individual respiratory protection) for use in emergency situations. Fortunately, they are extremely rare.

Last accident dates from the beginning of 2010, when a miner was killed by a gas explosion in one of the faces. Then the news company’s shares dropped by 3%. A major accident occurred in 2006 at the old mine of BKRU-1. Because of the geological structure of the field inside the mine development spewed brine, which led to a sharp increase in the level of hydrogen sulfide in the air. Overcome the effects of emissions and failed, and the management has decided to flood the mine.


 Photo source:slon.ru

Flooding BKRU-1 led to the formation of a failure on the surface. "Uralkali" for a long time to disentangle the effects of the disaster. Although it started well for the company in late 2006, a special commission RTN decided that technogenic accident occurred due to reasons beyond the control of the "BRIC". However, in October 2008, at a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, it was decided to establish a new Commission and the reopening of the investigation of the case. In 2009, "Uralkali" has paid compensation in the amount of 7.8 billion rubles. Two-thirds of the amount went to the construction of the railway line to bypass all the sites Verkhnekamskoye potash deposit.


 Photo source:slon.ru

2006 in general was not very successful for the company. Before the flooding of the mine, which accounted for a significant share of the spoils, "Uralkali" attempted IPO. For the London Stock Exchange then owner Dmitry Rybolovlev praised his business at least $ 4.3 billion, but even at the price investors are not accepted.


 Photo source:slon.ru

The mined ore is placed in underground storage. Stocks sylvite (raw material for the production of potassium chloride) belonging to the "BRIC", make up 22% of the world. In absolute terms, stocks occurring salts are 4.27 billion tons, at current production levels can provide the company with raw materials for 200 years.


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The underground ore stock runs scraper conveyor (kratser-tap). This device is a continuous, wherein the potash ore moves along the stationary trough-pans using scrapers.


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Thus it is a terrifying roar, and the site is always filled with dust. By the way, it is useful for the lungs, but causes irritation and even skin ulcers. Including so (underground and still cool) miners dress in several layers uniforms, tight-fitting wrists and throat, and after the change necessarily take a shower.


 Photo source:slon.ru

It has become quieter, you can tell more. In 2010, "Uralkali" change of ownership. Dmitry Rybolovlev, the last with the company through the second half of the 90’s and zero, sold it to a group of investors. As a result, control of the company was Suleiman Kerimov.


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The red layer — potassium, gray — clay, white — table salt.
Intricate patterns left Permian sea, splash around here many years ago.


 Photo source:slon.ru


 Photo source:slon.ru

Now the factory. Skip hoist Siemag at a time raises up to 30 tons of potash ore with a 400-meter depth. Main components: track, skips (vessels), lifting machine, pile driver, towing rope ferries in their careers and at the surface. Just last item — on the photo.


 Photo source:slon.ru

The department grinding potash ore flotation plant with a rod mill and brought to the screen size required for further enrichment process.


 Photo source:slon.ru

The end of the raw ore, while the two main methods. First — halurgical used since the birth of the potash industry in the second half of the XIX century. It is based on the change together solubility of potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl) in water at various temperatures. Fragmented sylvinite ore is dissolved in hot liquor in solvents with screw mixers and bucket elevators, and then cooled in a landfill. This crystallized from a saturated solution of KCl. Mineral content in the produced raw material reaches 98%, which can be used not only in agriculture but also in the chemical industry.


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The flotation method was used since the 1960’s. It got its name due to the fact that it is based on a different flotation (vsplyvaemosti) mineral sylvite and halite. Partially purified ore flotation machine is placed in the bubbles adhere to the particles of potassium chloride and push them onto the surface of the mixture for subsequent separation. Then it condenses, filtered, dried and pelletized. After drying, moisture Pink MOP with nutrient content 95% is only 0.1%.


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And so we got a very valuable addition to the soil. Valuable — in the truest sense of the word. The cost of potassium chloride has grown since the crisis, but has not yet reached the highs of 2008 ($ 650 per ton).

It’s simple: phosphorus and nitrogen supplements work to increase the volume. A potash fertilizer improves plant quality. However, they do not accumulate in the soil, so that the farmer is required to make all new portions. Given the continued growth of the population (the world is already living 7,000,000,000 people) and improve the quality of life in third world countries (population wants to eat better) perspective "BRIC" seem serene.

But the proposal would increase. Market leader — Canadian Potash Corp. — 2013 to expand its own power in the half. American Mosaic also pays special attention to the new projects in the plans — by 2020 to increase the capacity to 5.1 million tons. That’s a lot: production of "BRIC" (taking into account assets "Silvinit") for the first 9 months of 2011 amounted to 8,060,000 tons.


 Photo source:slon.ru

Potash mine dumps in Berezniki: mining here for decades poured the whole mountains empty ore.


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BKRU-4, the biggest mine of the "BRIC" bird’s eye view. Products with him comes mainly in China, India and Brazil. Demand for fertilizer on their part will only increase.

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