The City of Estevan has entered into a co-operation agreement with the Ocean Man First Nation and Buffalo Potash Corp. to examine the feasibility of constructing a polygeneration facility, with its opportunity of diversification, innovation, and employment.
The facility will be an industrial complex consisting of separate, yet integrated modules that will use southern Saskatchewan’s coal, potash, natural and inert gases, brines and other raw materials to make high quality synthetic fuel, generate power through co-generation, and other value-added products such as potassium-based fertilizer, hydrogen syngas, battery materials, and pitch for carbon fibre.
“The idea here is rather than burning coal to make electrons, we convert the coal and other resource materials to other products – so we go from power generation to polygeneration,” said Steve Halabura, CEO of Buffalo Potash Corp.
“There's a lot of good reasons for that because Estevan’s strengths are in the workforce, service and supply industry, infrastructure - connection to US, rail and roads and the existing infrastructure with Shand and Boundary Dam power stations.”
As a first step in converting this vision into value, the partnership is examining the feasibility of constructing a potash business based upon six modular mines, capable of collectively sending up to three million tonnes of raw potash feedstock per year to a potash-based fertilizer production facility that would be located in Estevan.
Early indications are that this may be a feasible business and may provide hundreds of jobs to Estevan and the larger southern Saskatchewan community. The City of Estevan and its partners are in the process of acquiring lands for the first phase of the production facility and for the first proof-of-concept mine.
They also entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) for senior construction financing, which may be some $500 million.
Discussing the future steps of the project, city manager Jeff Ward says: “We’ve progressed past the idea stage and we're now looking at physical assets and services to move this forward.”
“It's definitely a pivot of our normal natural resource industry and we think this is a potential solution that can use our workforce as well as some of the resources we have here in the city to really move forward and keep employment in the area.”
“The province of Saskatchewan has been working with the City of Estevan and these proponents to try and bring this project to fruition and it's very exciting to see that they're ready to move forward with this project,” added Estevan MLA Lori Carr.
If successful, this project is poised to create a new and unique business opportunity that has the potential to be a significant economic driver as the community moves forward.