The new Picadilly potash mine in Penobsquis is about to open seven years after being announced and after surviving a slump in the potash market.
On Wednesday, several dump trucks could be seen hauling potash out of the mine and by the end of the week mine officials expect to reach its deposits to begin production.
Jean-Guy Leclair, general manager of Potash Corp. Penobsquis says it’s a proud week.
“Obviously for this week it's very exciting, because people know that we're almost there,” he said.
Since the project was announced in 2007, Potash Corp. has been concentrating on all the infrastructure needed to mine potash.
The tunnels have been sorted out and they're finally at the area where they can hit the deposits.
The initial announcement of the mine led to a boom in the local economy. At the time, then-Premier Shawn Graham boasted about it when construction began.
“This is a long-term project which is going to create hundreds of jobs and spin-off jobs on top that that's going to continue to grow New Brunswick's economy,” he said in 2008.
The $2.2 billion project hit a bump in the road as it neared completion with slumping demand for both potash and phosphates. That resulted in more than 70 layoffs.
Moffetts hardware store in nearby Sussex has many of its customers work for Potash Corp. according to Jacques Leblanc.
“I think it's gonna be great,” he said. “As long as the price of potash stays high and that the people that are working there will keep on working there and hopefully it employs more people.”
Initially, the mine was supposed to add 130 jobs, but Leclair says there is a different reality today.
“Our goal is to still close the old mine and keep the new mine open. That is still our goal. Like the manpower, there's not going to be a big difference with the manpower,” he said.
The new mine has a projected lifespan of 73 years.
The original version of this story incorrectly stated the new mine has a projected lifespan of 20 years. In fact, it's projected lifespan is 73 years.Nov 07, 2014 2:07 PM AT