Harvesting Success

At Saskatchewan Minerals, getting the best possible quality of sodium sulphate to our customers is our number one priority.

Meeting our customers’ ever-changing demands in the future begins with the promise of efficiency, preparedness and a reliable supply.

As temperatures begin to drop, processing of this year’s upcoming sodium sulphate supply is moving right along and continuing right on schedule.

“With summer coming to a close and the annual crop producing such a successful harvest this year, our customers can trust that an adequate stock will be awaiting them when it comes time for them to buy,” says Clayton Millar, regional accounts manager with Saskatchewan Minerals.

Current pumped densities and volumes extracted indicate that Saskatchewan Minerals is set to experience a successful harvest for another year.

“[The harvest] is such an important time for us since it’s what we work off of for the entire year ahead,” says Clayton. “Our very specialized team takes great care in the monitoring, harvesting and production of our sodium sulphate so that our customers always know what to expect. We have it down to a science.”

Harvest logistics

Operating on a year-round cycle, the harvest requires patience, diligent observation, management, and favorable weather conditions in order for it to succeed. An adequate supply of water is also very critical.

“The harvest preparation cycle begins by attaining appropriate water levels in the fresh water storage areas,” explains Glenn Jackle, senior quality and process engineer. “This allow us to add the desired amount of water to our brining areas to have enough water to carry the sodium sulphate to the reservoirs.

“We try to anticipate precipitation and evaporation levels to decide how much we will need to replenish from fresh water, and then we start filling reservoirs as early as June, usually finishing around September.”

Monitoring Mother Nature

Besides our engineering expertise, weather plays a huge factor in the harvest, says Glenn. “To achieve optimal water levels, we actually require high heat during the summer, moderately cool weather in the winter, and wind, which helps in the evaporation process to create a denser brine.

“Once the water is pumped from the lake system into the reservoirs, we measure the buoyancy and temperature of the water, along with significant lab testing to pinpoint the optimal brine levels possible,” explains Glenn.

Pumping hours are accurately recorded and calculated during the entire harvest process and approximately 20,000 acre-feet of Saskatchewan Minerals’ reservoirs are filled to maximum level to ensure that every last ton of sodium sulphate is retrieved.

“Once temperatures drop, the sodium sulphate precipitates out of the solution to form crystals on the reservoir bottoms,” says Clayton. “When all is drained, we begin the collection and stockpiling of the material and then come Spring, we start all over again.”

Vigilant environmental monitoring and weather tracking are just two of many factors that Saskatchewan Minerals is tasked with to ensure that its customers receive the most reliable, high-quality supply available.