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K+S Potash sues equipment supplier for $180M after ‘catastrophic’ collapse in 2016

K+S says ‘flawed design’ by Veolia Water Technologies cost $85M due to lost potash production

K+S Potash Canada has launched a $180-million lawsuit against the supplier of a gigantic piece of equipment that collapsed in K+S’s mine near Bethune, Sask., two years ago.

K+S filed a statement of claim at Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench in April, alleging a breach of contract and negligence on the part of Veolia Water Technologies, which is headquartered in France. It is unclear when the lawsuit will be heard.

K+S is trying to get some of the money by making Veolia pay back $29.5 million in credit. Veolia launched a seperate legal action to get out of those payments. That matter was recently heard in Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal.

Equipment fall at K+S Legacy mine under investigation

Bigger than a blue whale: Giant crystallizer heads down highway

In 2012, K+S Potash entered into a contract with Veolia to the tune of $324 million US for the design and supply of a crystallization and evaporation system for its legacy project potash mine near Bethune, according to court documents.

The Bethune mine was the first potash mine to open in Saskatchewan in 40 years.
Overnight collapse

Court documents detail how a dispute began in 2016. It says on July 17, one of the plant’s crystallizers was being prepared for testing when its steel frame collapsed around 4:30 a.m. CST.

“The incident was a catastrophic event,” the statement reads, pointing out Veolia designed the steel frame and provided the instructions for testing.

“All construction on the process plant of the Bethune mine came to a halt as a result of the incident. The Process Plant was evacuated due to hazardous conditions, including live electrical installation, flooding from the collapsed crystallizer and the instability of the collapsed structure.”