REGINA -- The Mosaic Company announced it is closing the K1 and K2 potash mine shafts in Esterhazy, effective immediately.

In a press release Friday, the company said the timeline of the closures was accelerated by nine months due to a recent increase in brine inflows. The mines were already scheduled for closure as part of the transition to the K3 mine shaft.

“The intention was always to close out K1 and K2, those mines have reached kind of the end of their mine life,” Sarah Fedorchuk, vice president of government and public affairs for North America at The Mosaic Company, said in a phone interview.

Fedorchuk said the closures will have no workforce impact, with K1 and K2 workers being transferred to K3.

Mosaic intends to resume production at the Colonsay potash mine and said it will be recalling workers as soon as “practical.”

“This restart will offset a portion of the production lost by the early closure of the K1 and K2 shafts at Esterhazy, and position the company to take advantage of the expected strong potash markets in 2022 and beyond,” Mosaic said in the release.

With the closures happening earlier than anticipated, Fedorchuk said the company is expecting a one million tonne shortfall from its original 2021 projections.

“There’s going to be a bit of a short term supply and demand issue with potash, but by this time next year K3 will be fully operational,” Fedorchuk said.

With Colonsay returning to service and the Esterhazy K3 ramping up to full capacity in the next year, Mosaic expects potash production could increase by two million tonnes from 2020 levels, by March 2022.

Mosaic has been managing brine inflow in Esterhazy since 1985 making it the longest a brine inflow has been managed in the history of the industry.