Our Employees

A True Team

What motivates people who go to work underground? What does a process engineer do with potash salt? And what is actually a Mine Surveyor? Each ERCOSPLAN employee has her or his own motivation, profession and story. This enables them to bring out their unique strengths and thus an enthusiasm for their tasks at hand. Some of our employees will tell their own story here, their journey to and with ERCOSPLAN. Find out more about our great team and challenges… around potash, salt and mining worldwide…

Laith Almazahreh

Maria Klautschke

Marie-Luise Richter

Carsten Ackermann

Dr. rer. nat. Laith Almazahreh

Process Engineer

What Motivates Me

I completed my PhD studies in chemical sciences from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Subsequently, I conducted a postdoctoral research at the University of Western Brittany in France. During my doctoral and postdoctoral research, I have developed efficient catalysts for the production of hydrogen, which is one of the leading options for storing clean renewable energy. Afterwards, I was eager to continue my carrier in the field of potash industry, as the potassium nutrients are key fertilizers in struggling the devastating consequences of global warming and climate changes. Moreover, the potash industry has played a key role to meet the increased demand for food in step with population growth. In this respect, ERCOSPLAN with its 70 years of experience provides innovative solutions for the potash producers worldwide to plan or improve their production plants.

My Position at ERCOSPLAN

Since September 2016, I have been working at ERCOSPLAN as a process engineer responsible for designing / simulating manufacturing plants that transform minerals into potash products, such as MOP (Muriate of Potash) and SOP (Sulphate of Potash). This position at ERCOSPLAN paves the way for me to meet international scientists and engineers, which is an opportunity for gaining and sharing experience. Besides process design, I have also been involved in management of several project stages for plant design, starting from feasibility study and basic engineering to the detailed design phase.

What I Do

One of my tasks was to investigate the feasibility of debrining a Carnallite slurry prior to decomposition considering several process variants and debrining equipment, such as centrifuges and belt filters. Afterwards, I was responsible to manage the basic and detailed engineering phases of this project, which covers the planning to construct a steel structure for centrifuges. Furthermore, I provided process engineering services for a basic engineering project for installation of a medium-pressure fresh steam line as well as for installation of a sylvinite screen in the downstream of a Carnallite decomposition unit of a hot leaching plant. One of the challenging tasks was to define a process concept for processing of potash ore, which contains Carnallite, Sylvite and Rinneite as potash bearing mineral to a standard KCl 95 potash product (MOP). Moreover, I participated in an audit project as an inspector for a process of MOP production from sylvinite ore. In a basic engineering project for processing of polymineral and polyhalite ores into SOP product, I performed process evaluation and calculation. Not only process engineering works and management have been within my task, but also developing calculation models for designing of steam heat exchangers as well as for a liquid-liquid type of exchangers.

What I Love About My Job

My position and the tasks I fulfil at ERCOSPLAN enable me to work in a team and share knowledge with my colleagues at different departments. To gain international experience, work at interesting projects and having the possibility to develop my knowledge and abilities through demanding and innovative projects are what I like most about my job.

Maria Klautschke

Mining and Geotechnical Engineer

Glück Auf,

My name is Maria, I am 30 years old, married, mother to a 1.5 year old daughter and graduated mining and geotechnical engineer.
I am a new employee in the mining department and joined the company only a few months ago. I was very warmly welcomed and immediately accepted into the team as a colleague, so I did never have the feeling of being an inexperienced newcomer.
After my induction, I immediately got involved in my first project, where I was able to support one of my most experienced colleague in the planning of a shaft sealing. In addition to the mine planning, all aspects of environmental, wildlife, water and landscape protection had to be considered as well. We also visited the project site to get a better understanding of the project and all related issues.

ERCOSPLAN Teamwork & Diversity of Tasks

During our daily team meetings we exchange information on all projects in progress and can also discuss our own project related issues with the team. I already noticed how diverse the scope of projects in the ERCOSPLAN mining department is. This ranges from conceptual designs, Basic and Detail Engineering, preparation of tender documents for sinking of new shafts or sealing of existing shaft, planning of new mine sections, mine workings or mine field parts, to final waste disposal and retrieval, up to preparation of documentations for approval procedures. And these are just some of the projects I was involved in during the beginning of my job.
Thanks to our international team, it is also easier for me to work with our foreign clients. In addition, we have the help of our in-house translators whenever necessary.

Exemplary Integration of New Employees

Working together across departments during project planning means working closely with the geology team and the mechanical engineering team. It is almost as if you are taken by the hand and led forward. I started out by drafting reports and annexes, then working on small tasks such as preparing presentations on specific topics. And now, after only a few months, I am preparing my first project report on my own.

Perfect Work & Life Balance

Before joining ERCOSPLAN, I worked for an explosives manufacturer and service provider as an engineer in operational blasting technology and manager of one of its underground storage and logistics division. This job is generally characterised by irregular working hours and frequent travel. In contrast, ERCOSPLAN offers flexible working hours and the opportunity of working from home, which is very valuable to me as a mother of a little daughter. I am already looking forward to my next project.

Marie-Luise Richter

Geoscientists

My Life before ERCOSPLAN

My name is Marie and I work as a Geoscientists at ERCOSPLAN. Before I joined the company, I was employed in an engineering office that mostly operates in the regional area and deals with matters relating to groundwater, contaminated sites and building ground. While working there, I was only able to apply some of the knowledge and skills I had acquired during my studies.

My Dream Job at ERCOSPLAN

After joining ERCOSPLAN, a new and interesting work field opened up for me, which – in broader sense – is mainly related to the geology of salt deposits. From the very beginning a variety of work tasks were waiting for me. This also means, that my workplace is not only limited to the office and the analysis of documents but also involves classical field work and supervision of exploration works, both underground and surface. The projects I work for are not only located in Germany but also around the world. A big plus for a constructive teamwork is the relaxed and easy working atmosphere. This makes it easy to cope with the challenges of day-to-day work. In addition, I not only have the opportunity to develop myself further here but also to continue my education accordingly. In addition to my work, I can complete my part-time studies and directly contribute my newly acquired knowledge.

My Tasks

Most of the projects I am involved in are concerned with finding appropriate sites for final waste disposal – a topic that is up to date and very exciting. So far, the main focus has been and is now on the geological characterisation of the sites, especially the salt deposits. The area to be considered for waste disposal is located between the island of Rügen and the Upper Rhine Graben – between Münsterland and Lausitz – opening up opportunities to consider a wide range of geological aspects and regions.

Field work also plays an important role in my work, which includes, for example, the monitoring of drilling operations to explore new potash deposits in Germany. As we are currently working on projects not only in Germany but also abroad, I have the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of projects and, in best case, to provide on-site support. This combination of different tasks fully meets the expectations I had hoped for when I joined ERCOSPLAN.

Carsten Ackermann

Mine Surveyor

My Path to ERCOSPLAN

My name is Carsten Ackermann, I was born in 1977, live in Gera with my wife and two kids. I work as a Mine Surveyor at ERCOSPLAN. How did I get into the field of mine surveying and to ERCOSPLAN and what fascinates me most about my profession and working at ERCOSPLAN after all these years?
When I was still in school I was primarily interested in natural sciences such as physics and geography. Growing up in a small miners town near the Ore Mountains and given the fact that some of my ancestors were miners, I quickly made my decision regarding my professional career: I studied mine surveying and geodesy at the Mining Academy in Freiberg, followed by an internship at a mining authority in Dortmund, North-Rhine Westfalia and graduated as Assessor of Mine Surveying. During my internship I worked in various lignite, hard coal, rock and potash mines and found my affection for the “colourful world of salts” with its specific geological, rock-mechanical and mining challenges. In 2006, after passing my final state examination, I started working with ERCOSPLAN in Erfurt, where I had applied for a job position as project engineer.

My Workplace is the Ground Below

At ERCOSPLAN, I was warmly welcomed by my colleagues and, with the support of the experienced long-time employees, I first got involved in the tasks of exploring, evaluation and closure of abandoned mines in Germany. It quickly became clear to me that ERCOSPLAN is not only at home in Thuringia, but also in Europe and worldwide: mine closure and mine damage assessment projects in Western Europe and Russia followed. As I gained experience, my field of responsibility expanded, especially in those areas, where my specialist knowledge could be useful, for example regarding the effects of mining on rock masses and earth’s surface or the mining and environmental legal aspects of resource extraction. Similarly, project sites and work locations expanded to other countries and continents.

My Work Tasks

The range of clients I work with is very broad – from mining companies to companies engaged in the rehabilitation and closure of old mines, law firms acting on behalf of mining companies, government authorities and environmental organizations.
The range of work carried out as part of these projects includes the development of documentation for applications for exploration permits or mining licences; calculation, review and assessment of mining dimension for newly designed and existing mines; examination, evaluation and assessment of the effects of mining operations from rock-mechanical perspective, including possible and actual mining subsidence damages, as well as the long-term safety of underground storages and disposal sites and last but not least the designation and verification of compliance with mining/environmental law and mining safety framework conditions for mining projects involving the extraction of mineral resources or final underground disposal of wastes.

Flat Management Structures for the Flow of Information

I work on all these tasks in close cooperation with my colleagues, each of whom applies their specialist knowledge of geology, mining and mechanical engineering, but above all their in-depth knowledge of their specialisation in the process of working in teams set up to meet the specific project requirements.
This wide range of topics and – despite the similarity of projects – the uniqueness of the tasks or problems to be solved, paired with ERCOSPLAN’s traditional flat management structure with short information transfer channels and fast, efficient exchange of information are what continues to fascinate me and has done so since 2006.
Over the years, I have gained experience of a breadth that cannot be acquired in any mining company and have worked my way up from being a newcomer to an ‘old hand’, which now allows me to share this wealth of experience with new employees and to give them just the same successful start at ERCOSPLAN that I once had.