In 2018, WSP conducted a Scoping Study to assess the potential for a new underground potash mine project owned by Emmerson PLC in the Khemisset Province of the Kingdom of Morocco. The Khemisset Potash Project is planned to produce up to 1 million tonnes of final potash product from ~6 million tonnes per year of run-of-mine ore over a total mine life of at least 20 years. At full production the mine is expected to employ approximately 500 people, with most of the projected labour force coming from the local area. It is proposed that some potash will be sold domestically, with the remainder to be transported a short distance westward to the coast where it will be shipped internationally.
The purpose of the Scoping Study was to evaluate the technical and economic viability of the project and determine whether further development expenditure is warranted. To accomplish this WSP initially carried out a review and interpretation of existing technical data from the area’s long history of exploration and development. The study required a multi-disciplinary look at the geotechnical, hydrological, hydrogeological, mine access, mining, mineral processing, waste disposal, infrastructure, environmental and social, and financial evaluation aspects of the project. The mine design by WSP includes a ~4.5km long decline to access the mine, which will use herringbone room and pillar mining with continuous miners, thereby maximising efficiency and flexibility. Cost-effective infrastructure solutions were devised, including a dry stack tailings facility to the north of the project area.
The results of the economic analysis showed a strong financial base and confirmed the Khemisset Potash Project’s viability to proceed to the pre-feasibility stage.
In parallel to the Scoping Study, WSP advised Emmerson on their 2019 site investigation campaign, including the drilling programme and geophysical studies. WSP has updated the geological model which now underpins the current Preliminary Feasibility Study, awarded to WSP, bringing Emmerson one step closer to contributing to the world’s supply of potash.
* This work was performed by Golder professionals who joined WSP in an acquisition completed in 2021.