By Mining Weekly,
Potash developer Danakali would initiate a scoping study into potential sulphate of potash magnesia (SOP-M) production from its Colluli project, in Eritrea.
The company said on Wednesday that it had produced high purity, chloride free SOP-M from the Colluli potash project using salts from the Colluli resource.
“We are very excited by the SOP-M product and its market potential. This high quality, multi-nutrient potash type is ideal for chloride intolerant crops in magnesium deficient soils, which predominantly occur in Africa, India, South America and China,” said Danakali MD Paul Donaldson.
“Three of these jurisdictions are proximate to Colluli, which is situated at the epicenter of population growth. The product also represents the diversification potential of Colluli, which will transform into a multi agri-commodity business over time.”
The scoping work planned would look at integrating a SOP-M circuit in the second phase of the Colluli development.
Donaldson said that Danakali had also started engaging with potential offtake partners for the SOP-M product, to determine the demand potential in South European, Middle Eastern and Indian markets.
A 2015 fefeasibility study into the Colluli project estimated that the Stage 1 development would require a capital investment of $442-million. The study examined a two-module development with an expected production of 425 000 t/y sulphate potash for the first five years of operation, increasing to 850 000 t/y for the remainder of the proposed 30-year mine life.
The Phase 1 development would include a project-owned and -built road, as well as a 900 000 t/y product export terminal.
The potassium bearing salts within the Colluli Resource have the unique capability of producing a diverse range of potash types including sulphate of potash (SOP or potassium sulphate), muriate of potash (MOP or potassium chloride) and sulphate of potash magnesia (SOP-M or potassium magnesium sulphate).
The project development initially focuses on the production of sulphate of potash or SOP, a high quality, chloride free potash type with limited primary production centres. SOP carries a price premium over the more common potassium chloride (muriate of potash or MOP).
Approximately 4 tonnes of Colluli drill core material have been processed at the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) in Canada for specific bench testing and pilot plant trials to produce SOP, which was delivered in soluble, standard and granular forms.
Over 100kg of Colluli product was tested at Ludman Industries in the USA for product compaction behaviour. Materials handling trials have also been completed to determine the anti-caking requirements for the final SOP product.
Like SOP, the high purity, chloride free SOP-M has limited production centres globally and sells at a price premium to the more common potash type, potassium chloride (MOP).
SOP-M contains potassium, sulphur, and magnesium, all of which play a key role in plant nutrition, and represents the second premium potash types from the Colluli resource.
Managing Director, Paul Donaldson quoted saying,
“We are very excited by the SOP-M product and its market potential. This high quality multi-nutrient potash type is ideal for chloride intolerant crops in magnesium deficient soils, which predominantly occur in Africa, India, South America and China. Three of these jurisdictions are proximate to Colluli, which is situated at the epicentre of population growth. The product also represents the diversification potential of Colluli which will transform into a multi agri-commodity business over time. Scoping work to integrate a SOP-M circuit in phase II of the Colluli development will commence shortly. We have commenced the process of engaging potential end users for the product.”