Emmerson
Morocco has three operating ports, with excess export capacity, all within 150 km of the Khemisset site

Moroccan-focused potash developer Emmerson has finalised the feasibility study components of port and transport and logistics, including capital and operating cost estimates, for its world class Khemisset potash project in Northern Morocco.

Morocco – Having completed a detailed options study, which is a crucial part of the feasibility study to assess all options available for the various components of the project, Emmerson has selected a “go-forward” case to take into the more detailed engineering work.

The company has resultantly completed a comprehensive assessment of the various options available for transport and logistics solutions from the project site to various potential export ports and local customers.

READ MORE: New revenue potential from Khemisset

Due to the outstanding local road infrastructure and the minimal investment expected to be required to access it, and the very close proximity to a number of potential ports, the company’s go-forward logistics solution will remain trucking product from site to its export terminal.

Due to the high-quality infrastructure already in place, confirmed capacity, storage and handling capability for potash and only minor additional transport cost, the company has elected to go-forward with the Port of Casablanca as its export terminal.

Port of Casablanca

The Port of Casablanca is one of the largest in Africa and currently moves over 8 Mtpa. The port has total capacity of approximately 10 mtpa and there are plans to further increase the capacity in the coming years.

Although the Port of Casablanca is now the preferred option for the company, consultation with the port authorities indicate that the Port of Mohammedia is still a viable opportunity and, therefore, will not be completely excluded from the overall development plans. The company believes this is a prudent risk mitigation measure to ensure that its product can be export efficiently and with minimal disruptions in all scenarios.

Road

Over the last two decades, Morocco has invested considerably in upgrading its national road infrastructure including the A2 national highway, which runs through the Khemisset potash project. The Moroccan Government plans to spend over US$700 million per annum over the coming decades to upgrade and extend the national roads network.

The A2, which is a very high quality four lane toll road, crosses the project area and passes within a very short distance of the two potential site locations. The company will only need to build a new entrance to the highway and approximately 1.5 km of paved road to connect one of the project sites to the proposed highway entrance.

Rail

 ONCF (Office National des Chemins de Fer) – the national railway owner and operator in Morocco –  controls 80 trains that are specific for goods transport and move approximately 27 Mtpa, 70% of which moves through the ports of Tangier, Casablanca, and Jorf Lasfar.

The nearest loading platform is in Meknes, which is 55km from the proposed Khemmisset project. Access is via well maintained national roads. There are several other loading sites with poorer road access.

The 2030 strategic line for ONCF highlights building of a new railway line between Meknes and Rabat via Khemisset, this presents a good opportunity for the project in case this new infrastructure is built in the coming years.

Due to double handling (loading at site to trucks and then offloading and reloading to trains), and an overall increase in delivered cost to the Port of Casablanca it was decided to rule out rail for the initial Khemisset project development plan. However, the availability and proximity of rail is a major positive factor for any project expansions in future.

Transport and logistics costs

Emmerson conducted detailed analyses of various logistics routes and obtained firm quotes from several transport and logistics providers.

Options reviewed included:

  • Trucking cost from site to Mohammedia and storage in a local warehouse at port;
  • Trucking cost from site to Casablanca with no local storage (i.e. on time delivery);
  • Trucking cost from site to Casablanca with storage in a local warehouse at port; and
  • Trucking cost from site to Meknes, loading to rail and rail to Port of Casablanca;

Although trucking to Mohammedia provided the best operating cost outcome, the additional $7.5 million to US$10 million of capital cost to upgrade the port more than offset this operating cost gain and was a key consideration in eventually selecting the Port of Casablanca as the export terminal.

Consideration was also given for the requirement for a port storage facility to help manage the logistics requirements for Khemisset. After close consultation with the port operators and one of the largest transport and logistics companies in Morocco, the company has concluded that it does not require onsite storage at the port.

The prime reason is the relatively small quantities that Emmerson will ship are well within the limits of delivering and loading in three to five days. The transport and logistics company confirmed it has the trucks available to deliver product “on time” to the wharf front to be loaded onto ships for export. This method is currently utilised by de-icing salt and clinker operators at the Port of Casablanca.

“The Emmerson team has visited the Port of Casablanca a number of times and have been extremely impressed with the facilities available.  It was positive to note that the Port already exports a significant quantity of de-icing salt, which has very similar storage and handling characteristics to potash.  In addition, the port handles large quantities of bulk commodities including phosphate, clinker, fluorine,” says Emmerson CEO Hayden Locke.

“The management authorities for the Port confirmed that there is sufficient storage and loading capacity, with equipment suitable for both potash and salt, to handle all of Emmerson’s export needs with no additional investment.

“On top of saving $7.5 million, we are pleased that the port already has expertise in managing products like potash, which will reduce the overall execution risk for Emmerson as we move towards production.”