Mineral exploration and development company Kore Potash’s lead project, the Kola sylvinite deposit, situated in the Republic of Congo, is progressing towards finalisation of DFS phase.
Once the Greenfields project is operational, it is anticipated that it will be one of the lowest cost muriate of potash (MoP) producers globally says chairman, David Hathorn.
This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 8 2018
“The DFS is nearing completion with the focus of the study on construction costs and the execution schedule. Rothschild & Co (London) have been appointed as the advisors for financing the debt to build and commission the project, along with its associated infrastructure,” comments Hathorn.
Finalising an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract , as well as financing and off-take discussions to finalise a funding solution for the project are other key critical elements the company will focus on over the next year.
Kola’s project funding is likely to be concluded in 2019, after which it will take about four years to build the mine.
This equates to a production start-up year of 2023.
“The Kola project is underpinned by a high grade sylvinite 33% potassium chloride (KCl) resource with a very low insoluble content (0.15%).
This allows for a simplified flowsheet that supports recovery expectations and in turn should positively influence the operating costs.”
The Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) shows Kola has the potential to be one of the lowest opex potash mines in the world; determining an FOB operating cost of US$79/t at that time.
“The other mining licences held in Congo by the company will need to be drilled and developed into studies over time too, but our focus remains progressing the Kola project,” he states.
According to Hathorn the DFS is being conducted by a consortium of world-class engineering and construction companies led by Technip and Vinci of France and is scheduled to be completed in the current quarter.
It will build on the results of the 2012 PFS which planned for the production of 2 Mtpa of MoP for 23 years.
The PFS life of mine is approximately 25 years and the company believes the district offers potential to significantly extend this life.
Rationale behind the Kola project
Hathorn highlights that the global consumption of potash is forecast to grow by 60% by 2030, due to arable land decreasing and food consumption increasing.
He explains that the company’s tenements within the Republic of the Congo were known to have potential to host a world-class and undeveloped Potash district.
The scale of the prospective area and type of mineralisation suggested from the outset that operating costs would be low and the project area’s proximity to the coast and the short shipping distance to South American markets like Brazil would create a competitive advantage for Kore Potash over existing potash producers globally.
Additionally, he points out that the development of this project is being driven by an experienced board and management team that are highly focused on delivering a fully operational potash mine.
“This team is being supported by investors that are actively involved and have technical and global mining expertise that is accessible to the management team.”
Long-term potential in the region
The Kola project, situated in the Kouilou district of the Republic of Congo is the key focus of the company’s development strategy, the larger Sintoukola Basin ensures that significant future upside remains.
The Dougou and Dougou Extension discoveries can support an estimated 5 Mtpa MoP production in the long term, with further exploration upside remaining in the area.
Exploration activity including drilling allowed estimation of globally important potash Mineral Resources and a PFS on Kola and a scoping study on Dougou indicated that both will be economically viable at low potash prices.
The company chose to focus initially on the development of the high grade Kola sylvinite deposit and will utilise conventional and well understood mining and processing techniques to produce potash for export.
Mining in Republic of Congo
Hathorn highlights that the government has been extremely supportive in all Kore Potash’s endeavours to date and worked proactively with the company to resolve issues, as have the local communities that are impacted.
“Our chosen EPC partners, both of which have already delivered projects in the ROC, will add value in terms of minimising the normal risks of building a new mining operation,” he notes.
Hathorn puts forward that the company has various community projects underway which are in ongoing development.
“We have assisted the community with a Kasava growing initiative where we have provided access to seed varieties that are best suited to the local conditions; assisted with developing modern farming methods and we have made various project boreholes available to the communities as a source of water.”
In addition Kore Potash has assisted with repairing some damaged schools utilising materials from camps that were no longer required and are also working with communities on introducing bee hives to assist with keeping elephants out of the farm lands.