Whiting Equipment Canada recently announced an agreement with Brazilian mining company Vale for the turnkey supply of salt evaporators and potash crystallizers for Vale’s Potasio Rio Colorado (PRC) potash solution mining plant in Argentina’s Mendoza Province. The first new greenfield solution mining project of its size in more than 40 years, the potash crystallization plant is an important element in Vale’s $4.2 billion investment in PRC.

Construction of the crystallization plant is expected to begin in December 2012, with the facility expected to become operational in January 2014. The plant will increase world potash production by 5%, producing 2.4-million mt of potash per year, with potential phased-in increases to 4.2 million mt/y before 2020. Current world potash market is 50 million mt/y. Canada is the largest producer (35%); China is the largest consumer (27%).

The vendor said its most recently installed potash crystallization plant equipment will start up this spring at Qinghai Salt Lake, in western China. Whiting Equipment Canada also delivered the first order for long-delivery alloy materials required to fabricate similar-capacity evaporation/crystallization equipment for K+S’s Legacy potash solution mine in southern Saskatchewan, Canada.

Whiting said it used technology invented by its sister company Swenson Technology to develop the process and engineer the processing equipment.