Solar salt from Australia
In 2016, K+S started the planning process for the construction of a production facility for solar salt in Western Australia. With this, we want to press ahead with our expansion into Asia. We see great growth potential in the region. We assume a possible annual production of 4.5 million tonnes of salt.
Ashburton Salt: Salt from the sea
The project is located about 40km south of Onslow in the north of Western Australia. The coastal region has established itself with several plants for the extraction of sea salt. Solar salt is extracted from seawater - and is therefore from a renewable source. The water is led through open evaporation basins. After several months of solar exposure, the salt crystallizes in an end basin.
K+S has many years of experience in the production of solar salt in the Bahamas, Brazil, and the USA.
We see the potential for long-term, economically successful salt production, from which the population of Western Australia will also benefit. According to initial estimates, K+S estimates an investment volume of about 350 million Australian dollars (approx. 225 million euros) for the complete development of the project up to the start of production. When completed, the production facility should create about 75 permanent jobs and support local businesses and service providers in the communities of Onslow and Exmouth.
Current project status
Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia has investigated water quality in the eastern part of Exmouth Gulf. This has shown that the salt concentration near Onslow is significantly higher than originally expected. Therefore, a possible annual production quantity of 4.5 million tonnes (originally 3.5 million tonnes) of salt is now assumed with otherwise unchanged project parameters.
As part of a research partnership between K+S and the University of Western Australia (UWA), the effects of cyclones and other weather events on water quality and the marine ecosystem in the Exmouth Gulf are currently being investigated. In this project, researchers led by PhD student Paula Cartwright of UWA Oceans Graduate School will measure water quality. They will map marine habitats in the Exmouth Gulf and Urala Creek Coast over a period of 18 months.
K+S plans to use the best available technology from an environmental point of view for the project. We rely on local and global expertise in order to ensure sustainable environmental compatibility. Environmental scientists and project engineers work hand in hand.
In order to keep the project area as close as possible to the Exmouth Gulf, we have settled it about 40km southwest of Onslow. We create a spatial buffer to the mangrove trees, which are an important part of the local ecosystem, and minimize the impact on algae populations. Residual saltwater to be disposed of is not stored in the long term. Instead, we are investigating other saline water management methods that are considered environmentally sound. Where possible, we will completely avoid dredging on the seabed or reduce it to a minimum.
A comprehensive environmental impact assessment and environmental management system ensure that the impact on the environment in the project area is minimized. In the long term, it will be one of the most environmentally friendly solar salt projects in Australia and worldwide.
With our Ashburton Salt project, we intend to press ahead with our planned expansion into Asia. We see great potential there and want to participate sustainably in the expected growth in the future."
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We are already working on the future
In numerous projects and initiatives, K+S is involved with growth opportunities for the future. Find out more here.