Responsible water & wastewater management

As a provider of mineral products, K+S uses water in many of its processes, ranging from extraction to production. Another of our goals is to develop products that allow for efficient use of water in their application. We extract salt from seawater and other saline waters by solar evaporation. On the other hand, saline wastewater is generated in certain production processes and from tailings piles. Our aim is to minimize water-related effects.

Saline wastewater

Continuous reduction of the salt load

The extraction and processing of our raw material as well as the storage of residues in the potash industry are associated with the generation of saline wastewater. In Germany, K+S is already working intensively on the implementation of measures to reduce the salt content of water bodies. These include measures to cover the tailings piles as well as the commissioning of the Kainite crystallization and flotation plant (KCF) at the Hattorf site of the Werra plant in January 2018. This alone will reduce the proportion of saline wastewater by a further 20 percent in the future. As outlined in the managment plan and program of measures for salt by the Weser river basin community (FGG), the focus is on storing saline wastewater underground as well as covering the tailings piles in order to significantly reduce the amount of runoff in the mid and long term.  

Water extraction

Efficient water use

We use fresh and process water in many of our processes. These range from extraction and production to the use of our products, for example in agriculture. We use seawater and water from other saline waters to produce solar salt. Locations close to the ocean also use seawater for cooling purposes.

In 2017, a Group-wide water risk analysis was conducted for all relevant production sites in order to identify water risks that could have an impact on our business activities. Among other things, we assess the climate-related water risks at our sites. Using the Global Water Tool™ created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas of the World Resources Institute, K+S developed a water stress index at catchment area level for all major production sites. These results provide the concept for environmental management at the sites.

With regard to salt water, K+S has set itself the following targets for 2021 and 2030 respectively:

  • After 2021, K+S will no longer inject saline wastewater underground in Germany.
  • Furthermore, a reduction of 500,000 m3 of saline wastewater from potash production in Germany by 2030.1

1This reduction will be in addition to the volumes generated by the KCF facility at the Werra plant and does not include the reduction generated by the cessation of production in Sigmundshall in 2018.

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