First commercial-scale potash operation in Africa
Emmerson PLC is advancing the Khemisset project, situated on a potash deposit in Morocco that will be relatively easy and economical to mine: Unlike most deposits, this one lies close to the surface and has no aquifer above it, making extraction fairly straightforward.
Processing the potash, however, will require a change from commonly used methods. Ore in the Khemisset basin contains iron and magnesium, and removing those metals will require an extra processing step. In addition, the ore’s complex chemistry requires different approaches to managing brine.
When Emmerson was first contemplating the Khemisset project, one of Barr’s longtime potash clients recommended bringing in our process engineers during the feasibility study to complement work being performed by Golder. Barr developed cost estimates, equipment specifications, and facility layouts and drawings for a plant to produce potassium chloride, also known as muriate of potash, which is the most common and affordable variety of the mineral.
In 2021, Emmerson awarded Barr a contract to complete basic engineering for the plant. Our civil, electrical, mechanical, and process engineers analyzed, modeled, and designed each major process and function of the facility. We also collaborated with Moroccan mine-engineering firm Reminex, which is working on mine infrastructure and areas outside the facility.
Throughout the feasibility study and basic engineering, Barr has been working closely with Emmerson to meet its funding timelines while optimizing design. Our early project work also included conducting tradeoff studies related to process design and high-level costs, which took into account environmental protection—a core focus for our client.
Creating detailed METSIM models allowed us to demonstrate how modifying processes could deliver additional value. From the base models, we developed a series of what-if models to evaluate incorporating a scalable circuit that would produce market-quality sodium chloride for the road de-icing market. The models helped us quickly calculate what corresponding changes would be needed in equipment, budget, and scale of operation.
Emmerson is now finalizing permitting and funding for the project. Construction of the Khemisset plant and mine is expected to begin in 2023, and potash production in 2025.