A preliminary technical and economic study on Davenport Resources’ (ASX: DAV) Nohra-Elende project in Germany has demonstrated it could be technically and economically feasible at current and forecast potash and fertiliser prices.
Potash specialist K-Utec Salt Technologies AG conducted the study to assess the potential of developing the resource, establish optimal mining and processing methods, and indicate target capital and operating expenditures for a subsequent feasibility study.
Research was based on Nohra-Elende’s previously-announced inferred resource of 1.7 billion tonnes at 9.7% potassium oxide.
The study envisages a minimum 34-year mine life, with annual production of 575,000 tonnes of MOP (muriate of potash), 640,000t of Kieserite monohydrate (a high-value magnesium sulphate used in specialty fertilisers) and 1.28Mt of industrial-grade sodium chloride.
Davenport believes there are sufficient resources to the south which could double the mine life of any future operation.
Nohra-Elende is a sub-area of the Mühlhausen-Nohra perpetual mining licence and is one of at least four potential standalone potash projects held by Davenport in western Europe.
The licence carries no rent or royalty and was granted in perpetuity with no commitments required regarding development plans or timescales.
Today’s preliminary study outcome follows similar results from studies on the Ohmgebirge and Mühlhausen-Nohra potash mining licence areas last year.
Davenport managing director Dr Chris Gilchrist said the results are the latest in a string of good news stories for the company’s asset suite.
“We are delighted with yet another positive technical and economic study from our portfolio of mining licences,” he said.
“This study confirms the quality of [our] assets in the heart of Germany and demonstrates that the development of a new potash mine in the region [could be] technically achievable and economically viable.”
K-Utec recommended processing of Nohra-Elende ore using two-stage cold leaching to separate chloridic and sulphatic components, followed by a hot leach of the potassium chloride stream with subsequent cooling crystallisation.
This process route would yield 575,000t of high-grade MOP, 640,000t of Kieserite monohydrate and 1.28Mt of industrial-grade (more than 95%) sodium chloride per annum.
Kieserite fertiliser can be applied directly or used as a component in chloride-free compound fertilisers.
Depending on the refining route, it can contain up to 25% water-soluble magnesium oxide and 50% water-soluble sulphur trioxide.
The soluble magnesium and sulphur nutrients are immediately available to the crop and can be used in all soil types regardless of acidity.
It is also certified for use in organic farming.
The highest-grade Kieserite products currently command prices in excess of $600 per tonne.
K-Utec also indicated favourable capital and operating expenditure estimates considered to be well below the industry-standard for developments of Nohra-Elende’s size.
Advancing western European potash assets
In addition to today’s positive preliminary study, Davenport has spent millions on advancing Davenport’s four potential stand-alone potash projects in the region.
The company will initially focus on the Ohmgebirge licence where it has identified it as a potential low-cost rapid start-up operation.
Davenport has also noted the projects have the advantage of existing infrastructure and proximity to European markets.