The completion of the environmental baseline study has brought the Khemisset potash project, in Morocco, closer to production, with the study identifying no areas of concern that could impact on the scale, location, cost or profitability of the project.
LSE-listed potash development company Emmerson is now planning to start the full environmental- and social-impact assessment (ESIA), which will form a core component of the application for a mining licence at Khemisset.
The baseline study was the initial workstream and framework for the development of the detailed ESIA, which will be submitted to the Ministry of Mines as part of the process to convert Emmerson's exploration permits to a mining licence.
"The completion of the baseline study is an important step forward and allows us to continue to rapidly advance the project, while minimising the potential for adverse social and environmental impacts in the future,” said Emmerson CEO Hayden Locke.
The findings of the baseline study, completed by Moroccan environmental consultants Phénixa and overseen by international consultants Oteba, highlighted no environmental or social red flags which could impact on the company’s planned accelerated development schedule for the project, as envisaged in the scoping study completed in November 2018.
The scoping study confirmed that Khemisset has the potential to be among the lowest capital cost, highest-margin potash projects in the world, with outstanding economics, including forecast earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation margins in excess of 60% and a post-tax net present value of over $1.1-billion.
"As we advance our planning for construction of the project, we are committed to complying with global guidelines such as the International Finance Corporation performance standards, which are important for future financing discussions,” Locke said.
“We look forward to continuing to deliver on our many development objectives and timelines as the year progresses and we move the world-class Khemisset project toward production.”
The baseline study assessed the potential impacts of the project on various aspects within the project area including land uses, social settings and habitat types; soil types, flora and fauna; climate, topography and elevation; surface and ground water; and archaeology, anthropology and cultural heritage.
The project has a large Joint Ore Reserve Committee-compliant resource estimate of 311.4-million tonnes at 10.2% potassium oxide and significant exploration potential with an accelerated development pathway targeting a low-capital expenditure, high-margin mine.