Study confirms potash mining potential in Ethiopia

by Ina King (Potgieter)

Yara International "Significant potential to extract potash in North Eastern Ethiopia’s Danakil depression", was the finding of an independent feasibility study conducted on behalf of Yara International, Norwegian fertiliser firm.

The study, from reserves comprising Kainite, Carnallite and Sylvinite at Yara's Danakil concession, identified an annual production of 600 000 metric tons of sulphate of potash (SOP) over 23 years.

The combination of a unique geological structure and an extreme climate in the Danakil depression required some adjustments in the production process. Yara accordingly developed new technologies to fully utilise the local advantages.

Progress on these developments, as well as key contact details, are regularly updated on the Africa Mining IQ intelligence portal. Companies subscribing to Africa Mining IQ’s e-mail alerts will be among the first to know about new developments, completed expansions and definitive production expectations, when they are announced.

Reserves will be mined using solution mining technology, while high solar radiation will be used to evaporate the brine produced at mining sites. Harvested salts will be processed and re-crystallised to both standard and compact SOP, and subsequently road freighted 790 kilometres to a product storage and handling terminal at a new port in Tadjoura, Djibouti, which forms part of the Danikal project. The terminal is currently under construction by the Djibouti Port Authority.

Equity partners required

With the company aiming to begin mining activities in the third quarter of 2018, it is currently seeking equity partners to develop the project. Project capital expenditure is estimated at US$ 740 million, while operating expenditure is expected to amount to US$ 167/metric ton FOB Djibouti.

All investment opportunities for this mining project, and many others, are available for viewing on Africa Mining IQ. Africa Mining IQ organises projects in terms grassroots, pre-feasibility, feasibility, bankable, active and operational phases. Mining projects in Ethiopia, from pre-feasibility through to operational, include 25 gold and 1 potash.

The Ethiopian government has committed to providing electric power by building a 130 kilometre-long power line. It will also construct a new lowland transportation road to support mining operations. Sustainable water availability has been confirmed through a water exploration campaign, while an environmental and social impact assessment study confirms that the future activities comply with Ethiopian environmental legislation and international guidelines and standards.

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