Glenn Jackle’s Forecast for the 2014 Harvest Season

In 2013, Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals harvested high levels of raw sodium sulphate from Chaplin Lake. Senior Quality and Process Engineer Glenn Jackle anticipates similar success in 2014.

How would you describe current conditions at Chaplin Lake?
The forecast indicates that this fall will be cooler than normal. We’re also expecting snow, which helps cool the brine more quickly. So we expect to start draining the Chaplin reservoirs in early-to-mid-November.

What harvest volumes do you anticipate for 2014?
Harvest volume is a function of brine volume and average brine density. Based on my experience with past harvests and knowledge of typical sodium sulphate concentrations—and assuming the drain goes smoothly, which we have every reason to believe will be the case—we can expect more than 500,000 cubic yards. That quantity of raw product will yield above-average finished quantities of premium-quality sodium sulphate — more than enough to meet all our customers’ requirements.

What challenges have you overcome to prepare for this harvest season?
A late spring followed by heavy rains in June pushed the brine pumping process back slightly later than expected, and we started in the first week of July. Later in the summer, unusually cold, wet weather delayed pumping for a few days. Despite these challenges, we were able to pump reservoirs over 90% full with good-density brine by mid-September. Now, we’re focused on ensuring new raw salt is available by early December.

What steps are you taking to maximize the 2014 harvest?
We’re monitoring the reservoir brine temperature, density and sodium sulphate concentration, while tracking the short- and long-term weather forecasts in November. We’ll drain the coolest, weakest brine, while minimizing the volume of ice and its soluble impurities. This way, we can convert the maximum quantity of raw product into finished sodium sulphate.

We don’t expect to come up against unusual conditions this season, but as usual we’re prepared to deal with whatever arises.

Next month: We celebrate the giving season with a look at the charitable causes dearest to the Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals team, from sending a team to the Queen City Marathon to supporting the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta.