Morocco-focused potash development company Emmerson’s 100%-owned Khemisset potash project in northern Morocco is a step closer to construction with a detailed risk analysis having been completed to identify the areas that need further work to mitigate the risks and prepare the project for funding due diligence.
This work is now being completed and guides the priorities for expenditure, using existing funds to increase impact and to be fully prepared for a high level of due diligence from funding partners.
According to the miner, Africa is the continent expected to benefit most from increased food production in the medium term, both as an engine of export and to keep up with the needs of its fast-rising population.
“Many stakeholders will gain from successfully delivering this project,” the company states.
Workstreams that have commenced using the existing funds include geological work that will prepare for and finalise the scope of general site investigation and de-risking of the declines, a further seismic survey and additional drilling to further prove out the early mining blocks.
Ventilation modelling, cuttability testing and a technical review of the mine plan are being undertaken and further process work is also under way, with the miner noting that, where necessary, independent experts have been engaged.
In addition, work is currently being done to confirm the opportunities for phased development of the project which will present an advantage during financing discussions.
Emmerson states that the options being assessed have the potential to materially reduce the upfront capital cost with the flexibility around potentially phased development meaning financing can be considered at different levels.
The permitting process remains on track for completion of the environmental and social impact assessment in the coming weeks with submission of the application expected in the fourth quarter of the year and successful granting of the permit in the first half of 2021.
The decision was made to produce an environmental survey that is much more robust than the minimum standard required, at a level set out by the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards and Equator Principles, says Emmerson.
“It may take some time, but Emmerson is confident that the outcome will be very satisfactory to all stakeholders.”
The company is currently investigating the opportunity to speed up the process of securing the mining permit to ensure this is successfully granted in the first half along with the environmental permit.
In this regard, Emmerson notes that the Moroccan mining ministry and other relevant authorities are proving to be helpful in dealing with the permitting process, providing confidence that the company will successfully achieve the target of having both the environmental and mining permits in place during the first half of 2021.
Further, according to Emmerson, because the valuable product offtake has not yet been allocated, in a potash market dominated by a handful of majors, this independence of supply is a major attraction to various potential partners.
Emmerson CEO Graham Clarke says this is now a pivotal time for the company as it continues to make progress with the delivery of the Khemisset project and moves closer to construction.
“The team continues to add value and the ongoing workstreams shall enhance what is already a world-class project.”