"Questionable" blockage in the Ministry of Industry of a phosphate project with considerable reserves



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A mine with considerable reserves of phosphate concentrate on the Chaketma plateau in Jedeliene (Kasserine) has been waiting for the Ministry of Industry's mining license for almost two years.

The request for an operation concession was filed with the General Directorate of Mines on December 5, 2017, but the Ministry of Industry is still dragging to endorse the company "Chaketma Phosphates", a Tunisian-Australian joint venture, so that it start the exploration work.

According to Fethi Hchifa, general manager of Chaketma Phosphates, the mining concession was reviewed by the Mining Advisory Committee (Ministry of Industry) on three occasions, the last one being on August 1, 2018. request "definitely" without clear explanations.

The official even accuses a former Secretary of State of Minas for "preventing the company Chaketma Phosphates from obtaining its exploration concession and using its power over the four members of the Committee, who were under its control." .

In fact, this mining project resurfaced during a controversy provoked by some media that raised suspicions of corruption on the subject.

Verification done, it is not corruption, but rather a blockage at the level of the Ministry of Industry and a conflict between the Tunisian and Australian shareholders of the project.

The local shareholder, Tunisian Mining Services (TMS) and Australia's Celamin LTD, have filed litigation since March 2015 after a decision by the first of its co-shareholder's investments in the company "Chaketma Phosphates".

The two shareholders share the company's shares at 49% for TMS and 51% for Celamin.

According to the Tunisian authorities Chaketma Phosphates, this conflict could not influence the progress of the project. In addition, the International Court of Arbitration and the Court of Appeal of Tunis decided in favor of the return of holdings to the Australian society. Both shareholders will find an agreement to move forward.

The President of Chaketma Phosphates deplores "a dubious blockade" of the Ministry of Industry and calls for unblocking the situation so that the whole country benefits from a promising investment and sends a positive signal to foreign investors who "have indicated their intention to participate in the financing of the project".

A confirmed economic contribution

All studies on the Chaketma phosphate mine confirm the existence of a deposit for the production of 750,000 tonnes of phosphate concentrate per year for the first 7 years and 1.5 million tonnes from the eighth year, according to one document sent to the TAP agency.

The project, whose mining reserves are easily exploited (open pit mining for a period of more than 70 years), could create, once put into operation, more than 500 direct jobs and about 1,000 indirect ones. The investment is estimated at 200 million dinars for works (Extraction, Flotation, Enrichment and Logistics) for the first stage (the first 7 years), with an additional investment of about 180 million dinars, planned for the 7th year. to reach a production of 1.5 million tons of phosphate concentrate, from the 8th year.

All economic indicators for this project are positive. In a marginalized region, it could serve as a model for strengthening the Public-Private Partnership in infrastructure, health and education projects throughout the region.

To this end, it provides for the installation and social integration according to international standards, the positive contribution to the development of the region and the country in general, the implementation of environmental policies and development opportunities in the medium term, after the stabilization of mining, a plant phosphoric acid or fertilizer.

Back to project history

The search license called "Chaketma" was obtained in February 2010 by TMS and Celamin. Given the consistency of the prospecting work and the studies carried out, the license was renewed for the first time in November 2012.

A partnership agreement to develop the Chaketma project was signed in October 2013 between local partner Tunisian Mining Services and Australian partner Celamin Ltd.

In October 2014, a joint venture was created between the two partners called "CHAKETMA PHOSPHATES S.A" (CPSA) and the research license was transferred to it. A second renewal of the search license was granted in December 2015 until February 2018.

A feasibility study conducted by the US and UK international engineering offices, JACOBS and SRK, was conducted and an environmental impact study was also conducted by an international consulting firm. These studies estimated phosphate resources at 230 million tonnes.

As part of the company's social responsibility, the "Chaketma Phosphate" provides for the creation of a training center for young people in the region, the creation of a fund to finance small projects and the encouragement of young people to settle in their own accounts.

To clarify that the TAP agency asked several times, the Department of Industry, clarification on this issue, but the communication officer of this Ministry, very quick when it comes to contacting the agency to publish a denied suspected corruption on this project evoked by electronic sites, did not respond to requests from TAP journalists.

TAP

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