Two articles indicate the rapid progress towards the development of a vast potash mine in the Danakil desert. Both are below.
But the mine raises many questions:
- Have the local Afar people been displaced and supplies to their communities cut to allow access to the site?
- The deposit stretches across the border into Ethiopia. Has access to the Ethiopian side of the deposit been guaranteed?
- Are the rights of those working on the site ensured, or will they be “slaves” forced to work on the mine as National Service conscripts? According to the article below the mine will require 1,115 workers during the construction phase and 600 thereafter.
Potash A Game Changer For Eritrea
Potash is an important fertiliser. The Australian company Danakali is developing the Colluli potash project in Eritrea and expects to bring it into production in 2022
With a growing world population, demand for food will increase, while the availability of arable land is expected to shrink. Potash, an important fertiliser, could be a game changer for Eritrea and other African countries.
Fertiliser is a key component to ensure world food security in the future. Potash, an important fertiliser, is found in abundance in certain parts of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Potash is the common term for fertiliser forms of the element potassium (K). Potassium is one of three key fertiliser ‘macro-nutrients’ essential for healthy soil and plant growth. It is generally used in combination with the other two macro-nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus, to produce a range of fertilisers, the type used being dependent on the soil to which it will be applied.
Commonly, Potash refers to Potassium Chloride or Muriate of Potash (MOP), however, a number of other potash variants exist with premium potash types containing micro-nutrients as well as macro nutrients such as potassium sulphate, potassium magnesium sulphate and potassium nitrate.
Potassium bearing minerals are typically found in areas where ancient inland seas have evaporated leaving behind their minerals. The Danakil salt basin, in Eritrea, is a positively unique example as it is one of only very few known potash deposits where kainite, a sulphate bearing mineral key for potassium sulphate production, is found in solid form.
Danakali, an Australian company that has been developing the Colluli potash project in Eritrea, was recently granted permission by the Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines to commence commercial production at Colluli. The company expects to start full commercial production in mid-December 2022.
Colluli is located in the Danakil Depression region of Eritrea and is approximately 230km by road south-east of the port of Massawa, which is Eritrea’s key import/export facility. The Danakil Depression is an emerging potash province in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Colluli is 75km from the Red Sea coast, providing unrivalled future logistics potential. The project is on the Eritrean side of the border, giving Colluli a significant advantage relative to the other potash development projects in the Danakil Depression, which need to ship from the Tadjoura Port in Djibouti – over 790km by road from the closest project on the Ethiopian side of the border. Colluli, furthermore, boasts the shallowest evaporite mineralisation globally and consequently has significant mining, logistics and, in turn, capital and operating cost benefits over other potash development projects in the Danakil Depression and elsewhere.
The project has now obtained all licenses and permits within the license area and has also been granted all required permits, licences and authorisations for infrastructure construction and development outside the Colluli mining license area. Infrastructure to be developed and upgraded outside the Colluli mining license area includes sea water intake and treatment at Anfile Bay; pipeline and access corridor of 87km between Bay area and the Colluli process plant and the Colluli site road of 57km connecting Colluli to Marsa Fatuma.
Colluli, a 50:50 joint venture between Danakali and the Eritrean National Mining Corporation (ENAMCO), has been called a “game-changer for Eritrea’s economy, as it is expected to become one of the world’s most significant and lowest-cost sources of sulphate of potash (SOP), a premium grade fertiliser.
RA International to set up camp at Colluli sulphate of potash mine
Source: International Mining
Danakali reports that the Colluli Mining Share Company (CMSC) has appointed RA International Group as its preferred contractor for the supply of accommodation, support services and other infrastructure buildings in support of the Colluli sulphate of potash project development, in Eritrea.
RA, listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM board, specialises in building, operating and maintaining facilities in remote and challenging conditions across Africa, providing complex humanitarian, governmental, mining, and other commercial developments and services, Danakali says.
Colluli has a JORC-2012 compliant measured, indicated and inferred resource of 1,289 Mt at 11% K20 equivalent and 7% kieserite. Development is already underway with expected production in 2022.
As part of the agreement with CMSC, owned 50:50 by Danakali and the Eritrean National Mining Corporation, RA will supply, deliver and install a mine accommodation camp as well as a plant administration and service facilities for the Colluli mine site. Additionally, it will provide comprehensive camp services incorporating catering, cleaning, laundry, pest and vector control, grounds keeping and waste management.
The plant administration and services facilities will incorporate administration offices, medical clinic, warehouses, and workshops (see graphic above, credit: RA International). The accommodation camp, meanwhile, has been designed to accommodate 600 personnel during the production phase with the flexibility to accommodate 1,115 during the construction phase. The 600 person camp capacity is exclusive of camp services personnel, which will have an additional camp, provided by RA, located within the overall camp boundary.
Niels Wage, CEO of Danakali, said: “I am pleased to announce the appointment of RA International as our preferred accommodation and support services contractor. They have significant experience in executing projects of the scale and quality required for the Colluli project. We are confident in RA International’s capabilities to deliver a high-quality product and service.”
Soraya Narfeldt, CEO of RA International, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the preferred contractor to work with Danakali and its partners on this project which we see as globally significant.
“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has indicated Colluli has the potential to significantly boost the Eritrean economy and have a substantial positive impact on the Sustainable Development Agenda of Eritrea. The appointment of RA International is testament to sound execution of our growth strategy, highlighting continued new business momentum with another significant award in the mining sector.”