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Emmerson focused on water management in Morocco

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Water is a scarce natural resource in Morocco and authorities are concerned about the management as the country’s mining industry develops. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Emmerson focused on water management in Morocco 

Water management is the key focus area in discussions between Emmerson, a Moroccan-focused potash development company, and the authorities of Morocco about the development of Emmerson’s Khemisset Potash Project.

London based Emmerson needs to get an environmental permit and water management is a key area of concern in Morocco following low rainfall in recent years.

Khemisset is about 90km from the capital city Rabat and the planned bulk port of Kenitra Atlantique. According to Graham Clarke, CEO of Emmerson, the company’s proposals, and specific revisions are robust and he remains cautiously optimistic that they will be accepted. “However, the timing of approvals is in the hands of the Moroccan authorities,” says Clarke.   

Environmental permit a priority (Emmerson focused on water management in Morocco)

“Emmerson’s priority right now is to secure the necessary environmental approvals from the Moroccan authorities for Khemisset,” says Clarke.

Khemisset will be the first potash mine in Morocco and the Moroccan authorities have sought to ensure that all aspects of the project comply with the highest standards.

According to Clarke Emmerson has always emphasised the economic benefits of the project to local communities, as well as the strategic importance of building a new source of potash in Morocco.

“These aspects have been widely acknowledged, and the project has received significant support both in Morocco and in the UK,” says Clarke.

Over the course of 2022, Emmerson has addressed several issues relating to its potential impact on local and neighbouring communities and businesses. However, debate about the water use and water management continue.

Foremost among recent revisions is confirmation of the capacity to use recycled water from the Khemisset Waste Water Treatment Plant, instead of drawing freshwater direct from the Ouljet Essoltane Dam. This revision, developed in conjunction with engineering firm Reminex, significantly mitigates risks around water supply levels during dry periods.

Dry tailings to reduce water consumption (Emmerson focused on water management in Morocco)

Emmerson has also determined that a dry tailings system will now be employed at Khemisset to reduce water consumption and essentially eliminate any risk of saline fluid outflow in the event of an extreme rainfall event. Clarke says that such tailings storage facilities are in use at various potash operations around the world.

“The finer technical details of the above, and other specific areas, continue to be reviewed by the environmental and water agencies. These proposals are in line with Emmerson’s determination, as a responsible investor, to pursue the highest environmental standards in everything that we do at Khemisset.

“The company is working through these solutions with the relevant government departments to ensure they are acceptable to all stakeholders, although the timing of final approvals is in the hands of the Moroccan authorities,” says Clarke.

Global potash market outlook (Emmerson focused on water management in Morocco)

Potash prices skyrocketed in 2022 following the Ukraine crisis, and the imposition of sanctions on Russia and Belarus, who together account for approximately 40% of global potash production. By the end of 2022, prices had fallen back somewhat but remains well above historic levels.

According to Emmerson the market for agricultural produce such as grain, oilseed, and soya, are expected to be tight, leading to sustained high prices for those commodities as well as fertilisers such as potash.

In the long term, the growing global population and the transition to more resource-intensive diets, combined with scarcity of cultivatable land, will lead to an increasing use of fertilisers to improve yields.

Africa will experience the highest population growth in the world and will thus have the greatest need for increased food production.

Clarke says that Khemisset, which will be the first commercial potash mine on the continent in almost 50 years, is important due to geography, as well as in the context of worldwide potash demand.

Emmerson focused on water management in Morocco

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Emmerson focused on water management in Morocco

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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management