JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Potash project developer Circum Minerals has completed a definitive feasibility study (DFS) on its Danakil project in Ethiopia, which confirmed that the mine had a measured and indicated resource of 2.8-billion tonnes of potash salts at depths of less than 100 m to 500 m.
The inferred resource hosted another 2.1-billion tonnes, for a total mineral resource of 4.9-billion tonnes of potash salt.
The DFS estimated that the first phase of development capital would amount to $940/t versus the capital requirment of $2 000/t of similar recently completed or planned projects in Canada and Belarus.
"The results of the DFS have demonstrated that the project has the potential to be one of the lowest cost, lowest capital intensity, large-scale potash projects in the world with excellent economics and expansion potential.
“The development of the Danakil potash basin will make Ethiopia one of the world's leading exporters of potash and related mineral salts,” project operator Plinian Capital manager Brad Mills commented.
He added that, when combining the low capital and operating costs with the lowest logistic costs to the Indian and Asian markets, the company could expect Danakil to rapidly become an important competitive force in the potash industry.
“Circum is perfectly positioned to become the largest producer in the region with excellent long-term growth potential."
The next steps for Circum would be to complete a mine development agreement with the government of Ethiopia, start the value-added engineering process to further refine the DFS and reduce capital costs, start a scoping study to expand production at the project to five-million tonnes a year and conduct detailed rail and logistic studies to further reduce the long-term operating costs of the project.
Circum would also start the search for a strategic development partner as it continued to refine its overall financing plan for the project.
The company was also conducting a full-scale pilot test leaching programme, with a large diameter production well, to confirm cavern design, leach rates, solution quality and evaporation characteristics.
Owing to the extremely hot surface temperatures, the project would be able to use solar evaporation all year round as the primary concentration method for its brines.
Circum was planning for Danakil to produce two-million tonnes a year of muriate of potash and 750 000 t/y of sulphate of potash from mid-2018.