RPS has been de-risking mining and storage projects, including potash mining, by delivering our clients robust seismic surveys since 1985. We provide integrated expertise in 2D, 3D and 4D survey design and management, government approvals, landowner permitting, environmental monitoring, field operations supervision, data processing oversight, geophysical interpretation and earth modelling.
With four decades of providing subsurface imaging, our experience in collecting and interpreting seismic data for the potash industry is unmatched.
Where is potash found?
Canada accounted for over 30% of global potash production in 2020. Along with Russia, Belarus and China, these four countries accounted for 80% of the world’s potash production in 2019. Canada also has the world’s largest potash reserves, with 1.0 billion tonnes of potash (potassium oxide equivalent).
First Canadian potash seismic project
First potash 3D seismic program acquired
First 3D seismic program used for collapsed identification
A 3D seismic program is first used for shaft location
3D seismic programs are integrated into production planning
Seismic data used for carbonate porosity and aquifer integrity mapping and mapping of Brine inflow source
First 4D seismic program acquired
3D seismic used for back-filling program and In-seam anomaly identification
First 3C seismic program is acquired
Successful identification of carnallite and Brine Inflow
Our largest seismic project to date covering over 450 km2
RPS is an industry leader in the utilisation of the wireless technology. To date, RPS has acquired over 7,300 km of 2D and over 8,900 sq. km of 3D using wireless acquisition system.
Another 94 projects completed successfully since 2010
26th 4D survey acquired at a single location
Phases of mine development
We have worked on numerous potash projects around the globe.
Map of countries and regions of RPS potash projects
RPS has been fortunate to become the preferred seismic technology services provider for the Canadian potash industry. Our experience is unmatched and provides us with a unique understanding of the evaporite section gleaned from tens of thousands of kilometres of 2D and thousands of square kilometres of 3D seismic acquisition and interpretation in Saskatchewan and other parts of the world.
Location of RPS seismic acquisition projects in Saskatchewan
Our planning and design strategy for seismic surveys takes a pragmatic approach and combines geophysical and logistical considerations with experience and integrated thinking. First, we review available historical data. Then, we design and plan 2D, 3D and 4D seismic surveys using the latest technical developments, incorporating site restrictions, terrain considerations and timing into the plan.
Project managers at RPS also manage the bids and contractor selection and collaborate with our client to develop a project budget. We require subcontract tendering on all major aspects of the operation, resulting in a transparent pricing structure. As a result, we ensure the best commercial value while maintaining safety, environmental and quality standards. Our clients rely on us to deliver on these standards - pragmatically, providing confidence throughout their project.
We support our clients navigate the complexities of planning and designing a seismic potash survey project, from the permitting process and compliance with local, regional and national regulatory bodies. We work closely with independent environmental monitors to ensure the survey observes all environmental restrictions. We understand the regulatory framework for surveys conducted on crown and private land and ensuring surface access requests and communication with landowners and other stakeholders progress successfully.
Establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with landowners is essential when surveying private land. Ongoing relationships are crucial to current and future mine operations. Positive landowner relations are the cornerstone to ensuring ongoing success for future operations.
We secure right-of-entry permits and communicate with landowners throughout the seismic survey. We are responsible for resolving any damages that may arise during the project. We also perform well water testing before and after the survey to provide a baseline of comparison to determine whether the seismic activity has affected the water quality or performance of a specific well.
While in the field, our team’s primary focus is that the survey runs efficiently and safely. Our field team is responsible for scouting and field surveying and hazard identification, line clearing, drilling or vibrator truck operations (vibroseis), and recording data. We are also responsible for the health and safety of everyone involved in the project. We have a network of skilled professionals in HSE risk management who are involved in the initial planning and early hazard identification, ongoing risk management and HSE reporting.
Once data has been collected, our teams perform post-program water well testing, remove line markers and equipment, compensate landowners, and submit final documentation.
RPS takes a pragmatic approach to seismic data collection, overseeing processing and data interpretation. We make logical considerations such as geophysical risks, seismic imaging, assessing the quality of seismic data to be processed, and the value of the information it can provide. This balancing of cost and quality at the beginning of any potash exploration process is vital to the success of a project.
Re-evaluating seismic interpretations after mining operations has enabled our clients to calibrate seismic signatures to mined geology. For each mine site, all available seismic data, both current and historic, is maintained online in a single interpretation project for reference when day-to-day mine operations require immediate information.
Attributes analysis and time-lapse (4D) interpretation of seismic data, coupled with microseismic passive monitoring, allow geophysicists to track dynamic changes in the subsurface related to mining activity and fluid migration. Multi-component seismic (3C) workflows have been performed for fracture characterization, rock physics and geomechanical properties estimation. Acoustic impedance inversion and earth modelling have been utilized to assist in statistically mapping ore grade anomalies.
Earth modelling for potash exploration facilitates the integration and visualization of multiple data sources. Earth models have become the data repository of the subsurface where geoscientists can query the data in 3D. Our bespoke approach is important because the complex localized geology varies between and within the different mine locations. We have developed unique workflows using specialized software to combine seismic, wells and engineering data to identify geological relationships.
As Prime Contractor, RPS has managed over $425 million worth of projects over the past ten years. In total, over 7,300 linear km of 2D data, over 8,900 square km of 3D and 208 square km of 4D data have been acquired by RPS. These projects range in size from our largest project at $28 million to projects of less than $1 million. We have extensive experience as Prime Contractor in all areas of Canada, and all geophysical acquisition operators have worked for RPS in some capacity.
We take pride in ensuring that all aspects of the Prime Contractor role are looked after, from safety management, planning, financial management, and reporting, through to execution and closure. RPS does not contract out essential planning resources. Synergies and efficiencies are maintained by housing expertise internally and enhancing communication within working technical relationships.
Clients who use RPS as their prime contractor save management time and money because we work hand in hand with the contractors and continuously ensure contract compliance. We ensure that our client’s safety diligence requirements have been met by bridging our safety program with our client’s program and continuously provide monitoring documentation and reports.
During the survey, RPS project managers provide daily and monthly cost tracking and reporting, transparently and seamlessly.
At the end of a project, a final report and presentation are prepared. This report includes all operational documentation such as permits, landowner agreements, pre and post-project water well-testing results, and HSE reporting.
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