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Iberpotash invests €200 million in digging the longest tunnel in Spain to increase its productivity by 30%

Catalonia hosts one of the world’s five active potash mines. The company Iberpotash has started to implement its Phoenix Plan, which foresees investing €600 million until 2020. The first phase of the project is the construction of a 4.7 kilometre tunnel to transport the potash mineral extracted from the mine to the treatment plant. The tunnel represents an important environmental improvement, as lorries carrying potash will no longer pass through the town of Súria. They will pass through the tunnel 900 metres under the ground. This first phase will enable the improvement of the mine’s productivity to between 30 and 40%.

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19 October 2012 12:54 AM

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ACN / Estefania Escolà

Súria (ACN).- Catalonia hosts one of the five active potash mine systems in the world. Iberpotash will invest \u20AC200 million in the first phase of its \u20AC600 million plan to increase the productivity of its potash mine system in Catalonia and enlarge its facilities. The company has started to dig a 4.7 kilometre-long tunnel to transport the potash minerals from the mine to the treatment plant. The tunnel will reach 900 metres below ground level and it will be Spain\u2019s longest tunnel, which will also have the greatest slope. The tunnel will be ready by the end of 2014 and will enable Iberpotash to increase its productivity by between 30 and 40%, as well as to triple the mine\u2019s ventilation, according to the company\u2019s CEO, José Antonio Martínez Álamo. In addition, the tunnel represents an important environmental improvement, as lorries carrying potash will no longer pass through the town of Súria but underground. This is the first phase of the Phoenix project, a \u20AC600 million plan to be implemented until 2020 to improve the productivity and enlarge Central Catalonia\u2019s potash mines. It is foreseen that once the plan is completed, the mines could produce 1.1 million tonnes of mineral per year. 630,000 tonnes would be of granular potash, 50,000 of white industrial potash and the rest, standard potash. The mines could remain active for a further 100 years.


Iberpotash runs two neighbouring mines located in Central Catalonia, in the towns of Súria and Balsareny, in the Bages Country. The company is part of Israel Chemicals Limited (ICL), an Israeli multinational company that is one of the world\u2019s leaders in the production of chemical fertilisers. In fact, potash minerals are used as fertilisers and most of Catalonia\u2019s production is exported to countries such as the United States, China and Brazil.

The first phase of the Phoenix plan consists of the construction of the 4.7 kilometre tunnel, which is being built in the Cabanasses mine, in the town of Súria. The tunnel will initially have a regular slope but at a certain point it will reach 20%, in order to go deeper and reach 900 metres below ground level. The work will be carried out in 5 different phases, going from the outside of the mine to the interior of the galleries.

A plant of vacuum salt

Phoenix\u2019s first phase also involves the construction of a plant of vacuum salt. The plant will enable the production and sale of sodium chloride for the electrochemical industry and other sectors such as food and animal consumption. In addition, the new factory will bring environmental improvements, such as a reduction in the leachate from the brine collector, water consumption and the salt deposit.

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  • The entrance to the new tunnel in Central Catalonia's postash mines (by E. Escolà)

  • The entrance to the new tunnel in Central Catalonia's postash mines (by E. Escolà)