Applying RFID to Potash Mining

Across Canada and the U.S., Potash is a major source of potassium chloride (KCI) integral to the yielding high growth of agricultural crops. A lack of potassium results in plants being of poor quality, susceptible to plant and pest diseases and the inefficient utilization of water for growing. Potassium is a mineral that is not produced by the human body hence its importance to the agricultural community and our health and well-being.

Saskatchewan is major source of potash for the agricultural community. For crops to deliver proper yields the soil must have adequate levels of potassium in it to remain productive. Canada has 46 percent of the global potash reserves worldwide. In 2011, Canada exported $6.7 billion worth of potash to countries such as China, Brazil, India and the United States. Currently there are 10 potash mining and processing operations in Canada with nine being located in Saskatchewan.

The UN has predicted that the world’s population will increase to 9.6 billion by the year 2050.

What does this mean for the potash mining industry? The more people on earth and the increasing middle class require that agricultural land yield increased productivity. More production from existing mines will require the benefits of track and trace technology to facilitate the distribution of potash for export.

Potash used in fertilizers is responsible for approximately 40 to 60 percent of the world’s food supply. The fertilizer industry benefits from potash production by providing nutrients to the soil, 95 percent of potash is used in the agricultural industry and 5 percent is used for commercial and industrial applications.

Exploring RFID in the Potash Mining Industry

Potash is mined underground from ore deposits or extracted from salt lakes. Everyday throughout the operation of a potash mine, organizations face many challenges that threaten the efficiency and profitability of the industry. Our experience in deploying RFID Systems may provide ways to improve the business including:

  • Inventory Management and Tracking
  • Delivery Tracking
  • Access Control and Monitoring
  • Personnel Monitoring and Tracking

Tracking Assets

Potash is sold to the agricultural market in the following three forms:

  1. Standard: solid fertilizer
  2. Granular: solid fertilizer
  3. Soluble or industrial: solid or liquid fertilizer

Ore mining extraction goes thru the following processes:

  • Ore mine extraction
  • Size reduction
  • The removal of clay
  • Floatation to separate Potash from salt
  • Dewatering & drying (wet Potash concentrate)
  • Sizing (wet Potash concentrate)
  • Compaction⟶ Granular ⟶ Solid Fertilizer
  • Crystallization → Soluble or Industrial⟶ Solid or Liquid Fertilizer

The granular product is uniformly shaped that can be blended with solid nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers used in the US and Brazilian market.

At GAO RFID, we understand how RFID can be applied to certain functions in each industry, the experience which we gain when developing RFID Technology can be used to track Assets that may be coupled with Rugged RFID Tags the granular deposit piles can be inventoried and identified as they are transported and the potash crops can be differentiated by these RFID Tags from solid or liquid fertilizer deposits.

Mined Potash is transported in Canada utilizing “Class I” rail carriers that are capable of transporting up to 17,500 tonnes of Potash to deep water ports for international export. RFID Tags attached to rail cars that can easily be read and tracked by RFID Readers installed across the rail lines. This helps ensure that the valuable mined potash is delivered without loss to its destination.

Providing Access Control

Using RFID technology, the access to restricted zones may be controlled, so that people with sufficient security clearance may be allowed, with our experience and proper customization we may explore ways to build the desired system, the entire potash mining site can be controlled and secured to only allow authorized personnel and vehicles entries into specific zones. Secure offices on mining sites can also be programmed to only allow access to management. Different mining zones underground can be accessed via RFID Tags that grant mining workers and vehicles the right access to the authorized areas, all without keys or manned entranceways.

Tracking People

Workplace health and safety is a major concern of any mining operation. Outfitting miners with RFID Tags in their helmets or vests may be a way to allow mining operators to track workers in the event of a mining accident. With our history of dealing with industry-specific applications, we can apply our extensive knowledge to overcome these sorts of problems using RFID. Through customization, it can be a way to pin-point an employee’s exact location in the mine in real-time. This allows for immediate response to distress calls, as well as automatic roll call during muster drills. The Personnel Tracking System truly adds an extra line of defence and peace of mind to employee safety.

Integrating with your Management Software

GAO RFID’s Systems can be deployed as a standalone solution or can be integrated with other software solutions, according to your needs.

GAO RFID’s AUTO-ID Engine, incorporates middleware and essential RFID functions that perform RFID data collection and information processing. It can seamlessly integrates with a wide variety of management systems so that you can access the data it collects directly via the system or systems you currently have in place.

Our team comprises of seasoned professionals who have the capability to combine our RFID experience with your industry experience and provide a customized solution that will smoothly integratethe appropriate RFID Solution with your IT architecture. The result is an RFID solution that is seamlessly unified with your management system.

We can work with you to integrate the RFID tracking data collected from our custom solution with today’s leading information management systems in your industry.

List of Relevant Information Management Systems

Contact us for more information on how our RFID Systems can be configured for your organization.