In this day and age there can still come some surprises like out of the wind a leaf will fall to the ground. It makes a sound and a whistle. You can never be up to speed about everything. I know about the Ethiopian dam projects, but certain industrial projects have gone in the wind. But then out of nothing the ICL buying out Allana Potash in the Danakil Depression caught my eye. Therefore I started doing research and seeing if I could get some information on the matter. A lot of information isn’t above the sea level yet, it’s still loose ends though. The licenses and the agreements between any company and the sovereign nation of Ethiopia are not at bay. But all the other information is saying certain stories. And tell how big of an issue this can get. Especially when you see how many companies is a-part of this shindig. Hope you get some information that you didn’t before and learn about the Danakil Depression in the Afar Region in Ethiopia.
Introduction to the area:
“The potash potential of Ethiopia was dormant until World War II where Italian and other foreign companies initiated exploration activities in different parts of the extremely hot Danakil Depression of northern Ethiopia, where temperatures regularly exceed +50°C. The companies exploited a number of mineral resources, such as potash and sulphur. The Danakil depression is found down to 110 m below sea level. The evaporites of the central parts of the Danakil Depression cover an area of 1165 km2, the major part of which is known as the Salt Plain” (…) “The Afar region of north-east Ethiopia is covered by Quaternary lacustrine sediments and volcanic rocks of the East African Rift Valley. The central part of the Danakil Depression is covered by a thick evaporite succession (Salt Formation), which is partially covered by Quaternary volcanic rocks” (Geus, 2010).
“ETHIOPIAN POTASH CORP. (ETHIOPIAN POTASH) has signed an Option Agreement to buy over G&B Central African Resources, which holds the title for the G&B Mineral Property in the Danakil Depression, Afar State, Ethiopia” (…) “Pursuant to the Option Agreement, upon the Option Closing, the Founders will also receive, on a pro rata basis, an aggregate of 20,000,000 Resulting Issuer Common Shares at a deemed price of $0.20 per Resulting Issuer Common Share, as incentive payments for their roles in reorganizing, financing and developing the business of G&B and in negotiating the Option Agreement” (…) “The value of the Danakil Potash Permits, the option and the payments under the Option Agreement were determined and negotiated through arm‟s length negotiations. The Danakil Technical Report was filed with the Exchange on December 3, 2010” (…) “ETHIOPIAN POTASH commissioned the production of a Technical Report in compliance with NI 43-101 to both summarise past exploration and to provide guidance for further project development. As a first step this Preliminary Resource Assessment Study (PRAS) from the independent consultant ERCOSPLAN, a German consultancy firm with more than half a century of experiences in industrial potash mining and processing was prepared” (…) “According to official information, exploration and mining licences were granted to Sainik Coal Mining Private Limited from the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines and Energy in 2007. Referring to this source, the deposit is estimated to contain resources of 160 million tonnes (without further specification)” (…) “ALLANA POTASH CORP. reports in 2008 for the part of the Musley deposit within their property an inferred resource amounting to 31.3 million tonnes of sylvinite at 25.4% KCl and 73.9 million tonnes of kainitite at 18.8% KCl, not taking into account mining and processing losses” (…) “The Musley Deposit, in the extension as defined by PARSONS, contains 171.27 million tonnes of mineralised material (55.63 million tonnes KCl) and partly extends onto the G&B Danakil Property. Six of the historical drill holes are located within the south western part of this property” (…) “The modelling of the 6 drill holes within the G&B Danakil Property and nearby drill holes south of the property resulted in inferred geological sylvinite resources of 28 million tonnes at an average grade of 29% KCl from the so-called Sylvinite Member, with additional inferred geological sylvinite/carnallitite resources of 5 million tonnes at an average grade of 22% KCl from the sampled part of the intermediate Member and inferred geological kainitite resources of 95 million tonnes at an average grade of 18% KCl. In these numbers, no deduction for mining and plant losses are considered. Resource estimations refer to the G&B Danakil Property only” (…) “The Danakil Depression stretches some 200km between Lake Bada (lake level 50m below sea level) in the NNW and Lake Acori (lake level 94m below sea level) in the SSE. The deepest point is located at Lake Assale where the lake level is 128m below sea level. This desert area is characterised by a flat surface that is interrupted by only few hills known as Mount Dallol, Black Mountain and Ashe Ale” (…) “Danakil Potash Exploration: Licence 3137-3150/2000 – 265.05km²” (…) “The mining policy of Ethiopia has received partial updating via the Mining and Income Tax Proclamations in 1993 and the supporting Mineral Operations Regulations in 1994 . These laws were established to stimulate the development of mining and to guarantee the property rights of both local and foreign investors. The preamble to the new mining law states that the law recognizes the significant role of private investment in capital formation, technology acquisition and marketing of minerals. The laws foresee different kinds of permits. The permit holders have both rights and obligations” (…) “The Danakil Depression is known as the hottest place on Earth, and is consistently hot throughout the year. Dallol‟s record high of the annual average temperature for an inhabited location on Earth of 34°C was recorded between the years 1960 and 1966” (…) “Because of the harsh conditions, the area of the G&B Property is very sparsely populated, and is mostly only temporarily inhabited by the Afari nomads. In the north western part of the G&B Danakil Property the small (temporary?) settlements of Ghebro (local salt extraction), and Iremle are located. In the northernmost part of the G&B Bada Property several small settlements are situated adjacent to the agriculturally used area on the alluvial fan of the Ragali River delta” (…) “road access is limited, but since 2010 it is in relatively good condition. No railway facility is available. No supply of electrical energy, fresh water and internet access is present. Connection to global system for mobile phone communication (GSM) is not available; the only option for communication at the site is via satellite telephone or radio. Mechanical and technical services as well as fuel cannot be obtained on site. Reasonable infrastructure for this is either present at Mekele or Afdera” (Raushe, 2011).
Information on AgriMinco:
“Following the completion of the maiden National Instrument 43-101-compliant mineral resource estimate, the operator of Danakil Holdings Ltd., Plinian Capital LLP, requested a preliminary investigation into the economic viable mining and processing options for the Danakil potash resources” (…) “AgriMinco’s chief executive officer, Bruce Cumming, comments: “Whilst the results are encouraging, they must be seen against the backdrop of uncertainty that the company continues to face due to the difficulties experienced in attempting to raise additional finance and the existing debt burden the company carries. We continue to focus our efforts on completion either of a capital raise or a corporate transaction. Under the terms of the JV agreement and the amendment thereto, AgriMinco was required to contribute 30 per cent of expenditure in excess of the agreed free carry by April 7, 2014” (…) “The operator of the joint venture, Plinian Capital, and Circum Minerals Ltd., the 70-per-cent joint venture partner, have consented to the release of the information contained herein” (Cumming, 2014).
BHP Billiton pulls away:
In 2012 pulled BHP Billiton out of the Danakil Depression. The spokesman for the company commented on it like this: “They already informed the ministry they want to leave” (…) “We have made a decision to discontinue exploration activities in Ethiopia” (…) “This was because following completion of sufficient work it’s not expected to meet BHP’s investment criteria”. The company didn’t deliver any more information to why they pulled away from the project at the time (Davison, 2012).
License giving to Allana:
“The Ethiopian Ministry of Mines has issued a mining license for the country’s Danakhil Potash Project to Allana Potash – a Canadian mineral exploration company. The license was issued after its approval by the Ethiopian council of ministers. A detailed review of the projects feasibility study and the Environmental, Social and Health Impacts Assessment (ESHIA) by the Ministry of Mines and other government departments had been carried out” (Wanene, 2013). “Approval of the ESHIA is conditional on the fulfillment of several action plans, most of which are identified in the ESHIA and already in place. These include monitoring ground water in the region (ongoing), resettlement of two small villages (in progress) and a commitment to community development (part of Allana’s Community Development Plan). Approval of the Company’s ESHIA is necessary for the granting of a Mining License in Ethiopia. The Ministry continues to review Allana’s application for the Mining License and meetings last week in Ethiopia indicate significant progress has been made in the evaluation of the Company’s Feasibility Study. While this work is ongoing, Allana is optimistic that the granting of the Mining License will occur in the next few months” (Mbendi, 2013).
Beginning information on Allana:
Allana had already before 2010 was finished had 60 drilling holes in the Danakil Depression. “Allana tacked on 28 drill holes from its wholly-owned Nova project, which occupies roughly 132-sq.km adjacent to its Dallol concessions and was picked up in a merger with Nova-Ethio Potash in November 2012”. The president and CEO Farhad Abasov is excited and was quoted saying: “We are excited to see the large increase in total mineral resources on the project and the significant conversion of inferred mineral resources into measured and indicated mineral resource categories” (…) “Potash resources continue to expand with our exploration activities which are ongoing on the Nova license. We are encouraged that significant additional mineralization of [carnallite and kainitite] has been delineated and will initiate further study on these resource estimates” (Northern Miner, 2013).
Basic information on Allana:
“Allana’s potash project is comprised of four potash concessions (Danakil Potash Project) located in Ethiopia’s northeastern Danakil Depression totaling approximately 312 square kilometers” (Allana).
Allana has completed a NI 43-101 compliant technical report for the three concessions. The technical report highlighted several unique advantages of this project:
- An inferred mineral resource of 105,200,000 tonnes of potash mineralization (Sylvinite and Kainitite) with a composite grade of 20.8% KCI
- Near-surface (shallow-depth) potash mineralization (within 50 metres of surface)
- Potential for solution or open-pit potash mining
- 16 drill holes immediately on Allana’s property
- 2 hole intersect 45 metres of potash mineralization at a depth of 680 metres – demonstrate significant potential to expand potash resource
- Unique environment that may provide for low-cost production utilizing solar evaporation and geothermal power
- MOP (muriate of potash) and SOP (sulphate of potash) production is feasible (NaFinance, 2009)”
Allana raised funds for construction:
“Abasov and company have raised over $90 million in equity markets and has sufficient cash reserves to reach the construction stage. And the news keeps getting better. Just last month, Allana’s debt financing process reached a new milestone as the company further de-risks the project” (InvestorIntel, 2013). “At this stage, little is known about the role of Ethiopian banks in the transaction for the loans between Afreximbank and Allana Potash” (Keffyalew, 2013). Allana Potash, a Vancouver-based mining company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, is set to acquire financing for its mammoth potash mining project in Danakil Depression in the Afar Regional State of Ethiopia in the order of 11.1 billion birr from the little-known-in-Ethiopia Africa Export/Import Bank-Afreximbank (Seyoum, 2013). “In Ethiopia, we are at the moment looking at potash project. It is about $600 million and we are still at the preliminary stage, but we are positive about that,” said Denys Denya, AfrEximBank’s Executive Vice-President for Finance, Administration and Banking Services” (Andualem, 2013).
Getting power-supply to the Danakil depression:
“The study is initiated by the request of Ethiopotash SC for 70MW of power. Ethiopotash, a company established by Dutch investors, is now managed by Yara International, which, in May 2012, upped its share in the company from 16pc to 51pc. Yara International, the Norwegian fertiliser manufacturer, itself is established with a majority share by the Norwegian government” (…) “The area will get power supply from Mekele, Tigray.
“We have studied all options, but Mekelle is better,” Mekuria said. “Since the area is not included under the EPPCo electricity expansion projects, the company will cover the project cost,” he added. However, both Mekuria and WondimuTakele (Eng), state minister for MoWE, say that it is not yet known how much it could cost supplying electricity to the Danakil Depression. The company wants the power supply to be ready for 2014, according to the company’s request” (…) “The project cost of the Danakil Depression concession could reach two billion Birr, according to Hoslestad” (Mesfin, 2012).
The Yara study itself confirms the mining potential in Ethiopia:
“The independent study identified an annual production of 600,000 metric tons sulfate of potash (SOP) over 23 years from reserves (Kainite, Carnallite and Sylvinite) at Yara’s Danakil concession. The company, which aims to begin mining activities in 3Q, 2018, is now seeking equity partners to develop the project” (Yara, 2015).
The potash from Danakil depression goes further:
“The product will be trucked 790 kilometres to Tadjoura, Djibouti, where the project includes a product storage and handling terminal at the new port currently under construction by the Djibouti Port Authority” (Topf, 2015).
Allana Potash getting bought by ICL:
On 22nd June 2015 bought the whole company of 100%, even if it had already bought 16.22% in 2014. So ICL bought the rest now in June 2015. With this trade the ICL get rights to develop the Potash project in Danakil depression. ICL has faith in the Ethiopian government and plans for infrastructure to succeed with the development of the potash mines at the sight in the Afar region of Ethiopia. ICL President & CEO Stefan Borgas, said, “We are delighted to complete our acquisition of Allana Potash and appreciate the strong support of Allana’s Board, management team and shareholders in conducting the process expeditiously. Our purchase of Allana is in line with ICL’s “Next Step Forward” strategy to broaden our sources of raw materials globally and to focus on high growth, emerging markets. Allana gives us a major mining concession in Africa, as well as a talented on-the-ground team with whom we intend to pursue our development of potash resources in Ethiopia. We are excited about the potential of establishing a strong potash platform in the Afar region that will enable us to serve rapidly growing fertilizer markets throughout Ethiopia and Africa, at large, as well as our growing customer base in Asian markets, and which will complement our existing potash operations in Israel, Spain and the UK. We are encouraged by the initial support of our activities by the Ethiopian government, which we trust will be translated into the assistance that we require to fully develop Ethiopia’s natural resources for the benefit of Ethiopia, its farmers and its people, as well as for ICL” (ICL, 2015).
I won’t write much here now. Because this piece is already at a major size, but I look forward to follow the Danakil Depression and see how this industrial and mining adventure will go. How the companies will earn their cash and how the reports from the area will be. Especially how the Ethiopian government will deliver information on the matter, which will be amazing. Because they keep so much information at bay and never really release anything. Hope you got some knowledge and understand better how this is in Afar Region in Ethiopia. Peace.
Topf, Andrew – ‘Study confirms potash potential at Danakil Depression, Ethiopia’ (17.02.2015) Link: http://www.mining.com/study-confirms-potash-potential-at-danakil-depression-ethiopia-96831/
Yara – ‘Yara study confirms potash mining potential in Ethiopia’ (13.02.2015) Link:
Ministry of Mines of Ethiopia (Geus) – ‘Potash in Ethiopia’ (December 2010) Link:
Davison, William – ‘BHP Billiton Abandoning Potash Project in Ethiopia’s Danakil’ (09.07.2012) Link:
Northern Miner – ‘Allana adds major potash tonnage at Danakil’ (26.06.2013) Link:
Rauche, Dr. Henry – ‘PRELIMINARY RESOURCE ASSESSMENT STUDY – Danakil Potash Deposit, Afar State/Ethiopia (01.02.2011) Link: http://agriminco.com/home/ul/Technical%20Report%20(NI%2043-101)%20Danakil%202%20Feb%202011.pdf
NaFinance – ‘Allana Resources Inc’ (2009) Link:
Mesfin, Mahlet – ‘Ethiopotash Seeking 70MW Dedicated Power Supply to Danakil Plant’ (07.10.2012) Link:
InvestorIntel – ‘Significantly de-risked, potash powerhouse Allana Potash is on the fast track to production’ (25.09.2013) Link:
Gebremedhin, Keffyalew – ‘Axis between Ethiopia-Allana Potash-African Export Import Bank: What cost to Ethiopia?’ – Seyoum, Arat – (23.06.2013) Link:
Wanene, Grace – ‘Ethiopia issues potash mining license to Canada’s Allana Potash’ (10.10.2013) Link: http://www.zegabi.com/articles/4772
Mbendi – ‘Allana Potash Announces Approval of ESHIA by Ethiopian Ministry of Mines, Danakil Potash Project’ (22.05.2013) Link:
Andualem, Sisay – ‘AfrEximBank eyeing $600m Ethiopia potash deal’ (20.06.2013) Link:
Cumming, Bruce – ‘AgriMinco’s Danakil report to look into mining options’ (18.03.2014) Link:
ICL – ‘ICL COMPLETES ITS ACQUISITION OF ALLANA POTASH’ (22.06.2015)