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Underground Shaft Steel Audit

Client: Agrium, Vanscoy Potash Operations, Saskatchewan

ENGCOMP was retained by Agrium - Vanscoy Potash Operations (Agrium) to conduct a steel audit of the structural steel at the bottoms of their site's production and maintenance shafts.

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By the client's request, ENGCOMP was asked to audit this structural steel as well as present the results in a manner that designates the extent of deterioration, priority for replacement and a general plan for replacement. By referring to existing drawings of the steel, ENGCOMP performed multiple site visits and compared the existing state of the structural steel to the intended design on the as-built drawings. Discrepancies, such as missing steel members and corroded steel shapes, were recorded with sketches, photographs and notes. These discrepancies were assembled and calculations were performed in order to determine the order of priority for replacing structural members.

ENGCOMP worked closely with the client and other service providers in order to perform the steel audit in an efficient and effective manner. The results of the audit were intended to give the client a firm understanding of the extent of any damage or deterioration as well as a plan for replacing any necessary structural steel.


  1. The structural steel at the bottom of both shafts at Agrium's Vanscoy Potash Operations is subject to moisture, chlorides and warm conditions which create extremely harsh conditions for steel deterioration.
  2. The integrity of this steel poses a legitimate safety concern and any problems should be identified prior to a member failing which could cause damage to personnel and equipment.

The Project

  1. The client required a steel audit to identify the severity of deterioration of structural steel members as well as a priority of replacement based on this deterioration.
  2. ENGCOMP visited Agrium's site multiple times and visually inspected each structural member comparing it to its intended design state as per Agrium's as-built drawings.
  3. Discrepancies were recorded and measured and compiled into a master list organized by logical area.
  4. Priority scores were given to each member based on severity of deterioration, safety implications and access requirements. These individual priority scores were also grouped by area and an area priority score was calculated using the average individual priority scores.
  5. These area priority scores gave the client an indication of which areas should be focused on in the development of a general replacement plan.

Design Criteria

  1. The severity of deterioration score was determined by calculating the reduced capacity of each member based on actual versus original properties of the structural steel.
  2. The safety score was determined by estimating the extent of damage or injury that could be potentially caused by the member failing.
  3. The access priority score was determined by discussing with the client the frequency of personnel access to each area of structural steel.

Capital Cost

  1. n/a


  1. Project was awarded to ENGCOMP in March of 2007.
  2. Project was completed in June 2007
  3. Project required nine site visits in order to audit all of the underground shaft steel


  1. Agrium was satisfied with the execution of this project and planned to use the priority system in considering a steel replacement installation plan.


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