In the lead up to Saskatchewan Mining Week I had the opportunity to go on a mine tour at PotashCorp Lanigan last week and what a cool experience that was.
When you think of a mine you think of this dark place where people are digging holes in the walls to cut out the potash.
That is not true at all.
In fact when you go into the mine, which you have to access through an elevator you arrive in a huge, well lit area.
There are parts of the mine that are dark, but it was really surprising how much light there really is down there.
The other part of the myth that was busted for me was that machines do most of the work.
The machines cut circular holes in the face of the rock to mine the potash.
The most impressive part of the experience for me, and mostly just because I had never stopped to think about it before is the size of the mine.
It is huge.
While I was on the tour I was told that some people have to drive 45 minutes underground just to get to work.
That is incredible.
This prompted me to ask how far that goes and the answer was incredible.
If you drive seven miles down highway 20 towards Humboldt and head west a little bit you would hit the end of one of the mine shafts.
The other cool thing about the mines is how structured they are.
As we were touring through the mines we would reach these giants doors, similar to a garage door.
These are in fact extremely important to the safety of the miners in the mine as they are intended to keep the air flowing properly.
After spending approximately an hour and a half in the mine I also got a tour of the mill, which is the production area for the potash.
It was really impressive how much work actually goes into taking mined product and turning it into finished product.
The ore gets crushed, sifted, re crushed if it is not small enough, cleaned, separated from the clay and salt that also gets mined, heated, pressed together, and placed in rail cars among other things.
The process is very cool.
And let us not forget about the miners doing the work.
It is nice to see that they are recognized for the work that they do.
Never mind the product that they are mining but let us think about the job they are doing.
Imagine going several hundred feet below the ground to work?
If something ever went wrong it could be catastrophic.
Fortunately PotashCorp Lanigan works extremely hard to ensure they are as safe as possible but you just never know.
So it is really nice to see that the miners are being appreciated for the work that they do and it was really neat to see just what it is that they do.