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Goderich and Cote Blanche Salt Mines

Compass Minerals commissioned SRK to investigate various alternatives in salt mining extraction and material handling for their underground room and pillar Goderich and Cote Blanche Mines (in Ontario and Louisiana respectively). The goal was to identify a mining option that would reduce mine cost by improving operational performance and improve safety. At that time both mines were using conventional drill, blast and bench mining technology, extracting salt seams as thick as 18 metres at the Goderich Mine, and 23 metres thick at the Cote Blanche Mine.

SRK worked closely with Compass Minerals along with various continuous mining equipment manufacturers to explore a wide range of options with a view toward practicality, strong system performance, innovation and ‘out of the box’ thinking. Many of the options investigated had never been used in an underground salt environment. The benefits of an integrated tele-remote system were also investigated during this study.

In approaching this work, SRK collected data on-site to create a cost and performance baseline as well as data from other operations using other technologies and methods. This information was fed into SRK’s dynamic mine cost and performance model to compare over six different alternatives to their current mining process. The model incorporated daily shift cycles, labour rates, equipment performance (including operating availability and delays), equipment and infrastructure capital costs, mine operating costs, salt sales and revenue.

The results, in the form of comparative discounted cash flow, demonstrated that a continuous mining and conveyance system could significantly benefit the company through cost reductions, increased productivity and reduced diesel emissions.

SRK further refined the continuous mining option to achieve maximum panel extraction by optimising mining conditions as a function of panel configurations while improving pillar and roof stability. SRK has now been asked to incorporate mine simulation modelling to help choose the best panel mining pattern for extraction, cycle and sequence.

Gary Poxleitner:

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