Modern Mining

London-listed Emmerson Plc, which is developing the Khemisset potash project in Morocco, has appointed Don Larmour of Global Potash Solutions to advise on metallurgy and processing. Larmour will act as a consultant for the Feasibility Study on the project, which is expected to commence in the first half of 2019.

The appointment of a consultant for the Feasibility Study follows the results of the Scoping Study, published late last year, which – says Emmerson – confirmed that Khemisset has the potential to be among the lowest capital cost, highest margin potash projects in the world. As such, its economics are outstanding, with forecasted EBITDA margins in excess of 60 % and a post-tax NPV (10 %) of over US$1,1 billion based on industry expert price forecasts.

Larmour is widely considered to be one of the leading experts in the crystallisation processing of potash ores owing to his 38 years’ experience in potash processing. He spent 28 years with Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan as its key process engineer, where he was involved with process and plant design and operations management.  

His role will be to advise on all aspects of the upcoming metallurgical test work programme, providing the benefit of his wealth of knowledge in process flow design, which will be included in the Feasibility Study.  

As part of the appointment process, Larmour conducted a detailed review of the Scoping Study work completed by processing consultant, Ercosplan. The results of this review included reinforcement of the general processing philosophy and methodology selected by Ercosplan; and identification of opportunities for simplification and optimisation of design resulting from fewer crystallisation stages and lower steam energy consumption.

The review has also identified potential changes to the brine management strategy to ensure brine ponds are appropriately sized and to reduce site environmental waste production.

“Don is one of the most experienced potash processing experts globally, with extensive experience in crystallisation plant design and operation,” commented Hayden Locke, CEO of Emmerson. “We are delighted he is available to provide us with his expertise at this pivotal time for the company, and his desire to work on the Khemisset project reinforces our view that it is a potentially world-class potash project.

“The Scoping Study and the previous work completed by Ercosplan provides a fantastic basis for us to begin the detailed analytical process of optimising the process flow sheet for Khemisset and then testing it in the laboratory.

“Through Don's review, we have successfully identified a number of areas which require attention to further de-risk the project and, notably, a number of areas where we believe there is potential to further reduce our capital and operating costs, especially on the energy consumption side.”

Khemisset is located in Northern Morocco approximately 90 km from the capital city, Rabat, and the planned bulk port of Kenitra Atlantique and 150 km from the port of Mohammedia. The project has a large JORC resource estimate (2012) of 311,4 Mt at 10,2 % K2O. The Scoping Study indicates the that project – which would be an underground operation – could produce approximately 800 000 tonnes of K60 Muriate of Potash (MOP) per annum during steady state operations over the initial 20-year mine life.

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