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ETHIOPIA: Increasing demand for water for industry (19/10/12)

Demand for water by industrial and commercial interests in Ethiopia is set to go up even higher after a potash miner, Ethiopotash, managed by Norway’s Yara International, launched negotiations with the government for a license to abstract unspecified volumes for use in its potash refining plant to be constructed at Danakil Depression in the first half of 2013.

Minister for Water and Energy WondimuTakele said on October 9, the government discussions with Ethiopotash’s over water supply but said Ethiopia is of the opinion that the mining company uses ‘groundwater which is available in the area’ instead of the scarce surface water in the project area.

Ethiopotash, owned partly by Danish investors, plans to extract an estimated 1.5 million tons of potash annually from the potash-rich Danakil Depression, starting June 2013. The Danakil Depression is one of the regions in Ethiopia with limited supplies of groundwater because of the poor permeability of the crystalline rocks and variable water-table depths.

A number of foreign potash mining firms – Allana Potash of Canada, Nova Potash Plc and Sainik Coal Mining Plc – are already on the ground exploring for the mineral and raising the demand for both water and electricity. The country’s power utility, Ethiopian Electric Power Cooperation (EEPCo), is finalizing a power supply feasibility study for the potash-rich area to power operations by companies engaged in exploration of the mineral. Ethiopotash had requested EEPCo for the study ahead of the planned installation of 70MW of power for its planned projects.

Several dams are either underway or planned in Ethiopia as the country implements a power generation programme targeting an additional 6000MW from hydropower projects on the Nile River.
Shem Oirere