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Update on Mexican phosphate project

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Fertilizer,

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., a company in the field of deep-ocean exploration, has provided an update on subsidiary exploraciones oceanicas (ExO)’s phosphate project in Mexico.

Odyssey has advised of an additional legal step it has taken to defend shareholder interests and realise the full economic value in the development of the project.

As of 2012, the Mexican government granted ExO concessions for the development of one of the world’s largest seabed phosphate deposits more than 22 km off the coast of Baja California Sur. Odyssey believes that phosphate sands extracted from the deposit could supply most of North America’s fertilizer needs for the next 100 years. Development of this resource would see Mexico, currently dependent on expensive imported phosphate, become self-sufficient in fertilizer and materially advance its domestic food security, in addition to providing economic and strategic benefits to the country. 

ExO has placed responsible environmental development of the phosphate resource at the heart of its plans. ExO spent six years working to demonstrate that the concession can be developed in an environmentally responsible manner, that causes no long or short-term negative effects on the local marine environment. ExO worked closely with scientists from Mexico’s ministry of the environment (SEMARNAT), convincing them of the project’s merits. Despite this, political interference on the part of the then secretary of the environment, Rafael Pacchiano, led to an initial denial of approval in April 2016.

ExO appealed the negative decision to Mexico’s superior tribunal of administrative justice. In March 2018 a unanimous full bench of the tribunal confirmed that SEMARNAT’s initial decision failed to comport with Mexican law, in that it failed to consider the actual circumstances of the project and the extensive environmental mitigation measures ExO had proposed. The tribunal sent the issue back to SEMARNAT for a proper decision in compliance with the agency’s statutory obligations. In October 2018, SEMARNAT issued a second refusal.

Odyssey has stated that it is confident in the environmental and economic merits of its venture in Mexico, and that it intends to take all necessary steps to protect this valuable shareholder asset. 

“We believe that development of this strategically and economically significant resource aligns with the key objectives outlined by Mexico’s new administration to transform the economy and achieve food security for the benefit of the Mexican people,” stated Mark Gordon, Odyssey president and CEO. “Our proposals also fully comply with principles of careful environmental stewardship, consistent with Odyssey’s core values.  We welcome the opportunity to work with the Mexican government during this consultation period to find a way forward that benefits all parties.”

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