Keywords: Potash mining, site remediation, site closure, environmental reclamation, co-operative reconstruction, workforce retraining
The only French potash deposit, located in Alsace, north of the city of Mulhouse, has been mined by Mines de Potasse d’Alsace (MDPA) since 1904.
By the end of the 1970s it was already known that the deposit would be exhausted by 2004.
In 1994, MDPA decided to organise its activities by taking into account all the issues to be resolved before the end of mining. Five topics were thus defined:
1. A social plan, with a commitment to come up with a solution for each miner. An agreement was signed with the Trade Unions in 1997.
2. The end of mining while maintaining priorities: security, quality of products, improvement of results.
3. A new environmental outlook with a programme for the processing of the spoil heaps and the restoration of the quality of the groundwater which had become polluted by sodium chloride.
4. Industrialisation to ensure new jobs for the 21st century. The former industrial sites were cleaned and new industrial estates created. The aim of the plan was to create 2,700 new jobs between 1996 and 2004.
5. The transfer of the assets of the company: 3,300 houses, 2,500 hectares of landed properties and many industrial or public buildings had to be s.
The uniqueness of the process in the Alsace Potash Basin lies in the fact that these five topics were accepted by all the partners concerned (State, Region, Department, local councils and MDPA) to set up the ‘Plan of Reconversion’ of the area, which was signed by these partners in 1996.
The paper describes this plan and its results.
René Giovanetti, former Director of MDPA, now at: 17 rue Claude Debussy, F-68260 Kingersheim, France.
24 pages, 13 plates, 13 figures, 3 tables.