Potash is a group of potassium-bearing minerals and chemicals that are found in underground deposits that must be mined. There is no substitute for potash in fertilizers, and without its beneficial boost to crop yields we would struggle to feed the world. Identifying new deposits is a part of ensuring a steady supply of potash to meet the growing demands of the world’s agricultural industry.
In 2018, Golder conducted a Scoping Study to assess the potential for a new underground potash mine project owned by Emmerson PLC in the Khemisset Province of the Kingdom of Morocco. The Khemisset Potash Project is planned to produce up to 1 million tonnes of final potash product from ~6 million tonnes per year of run-of-mine ore over a total mine life of at least 20 years. At full production the mine is expected to employ approximately 500 people, with most of the projected labour force coming from the local area. It is proposed that some potash will be sold domestically, with the remainder to be transported a short distance westward to the coast where it will be shipped internationally.
The purpose of the Scoping Study was to evaluate the technical and economic viability of the project and determine whether further development expenditure is warranted. To accomplish this Golder initially carried out a review and interpretation of existing technical data from the area’s long history of exploration and development. The study required a multi-disciplinary look at the geotechnical, hydrological, hydrogeological, mine access, mining, mineral processing, waste disposal, infrastructure, environmental and social, and financial evaluation aspects of the project. The mine design by Golder includes a ~4.5km long decline to access the mine, which will use herringbone room and pillar mining with continuous miners, thereby maximising efficiency and flexibility. Cost-effective infrastructure solutions were devised, including a dry stack tailings facility to the north of the project area.
The results of the economic analysis showed a strong financial base and confirmed the Khemisset Potash Project’s viability to proceed to the pre-feasibility stage.
In parallel to the Scoping Study, Golder advised Emmerson on their 2019 site investigation campaign, including the drilling programme and geophysical studies. Golder has updated the geological model which now underpins the current Preliminary Feasibility Study, awarded to Golder, bringing Emmerson one step closer to contributing to the world’s supply of potash.