Update Released on Oceanica Resources EIA
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., a pioneer in the field of deep-ocean exploration, yesterday released an update on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed “Don Diego” project, which is currently undergoing final reviews prior to government filing.
As previously reported, the EIA for the proposed “Don Diego” project to extract phosphate sands was completed and ready to file in June. However, based on the recommendation of advisors, including the project’s environmental and legal team, the EIA has been undergoing a series of reviews with various stakeholders including environmental groups, local fishing interests and community leaders, as well as potential strategic partners. Feedback received from these reviews has been considered and incorporated into the EIA.
“I have been involved in the provision of independent scientific advice to this project, based on my extensive previous experience with studies on the environmental impact and management of dredging by Trailer Suction Hopper Dredgers (TSHD) for the marine aggregates sector in the UK,” said environmental consultant Dr. Richard Newell.
This community outreach and solicitation of advice has delivered a higher-than-anticipated level of favorable interest and cooperation from local and environmental groups, that in turn has resulted in over 20 meetings with stakeholders, and extensive additional reviews of the EIA.
While this has extended the timeline for official government submission of the EIA, the resulting document is now more comprehensive, and moreover has advance indications of support from a diverse group of interested parties who have contributed input.
The EIA has now expanded to over 4,600 pages with the inclusion of annexes that feature extensive analyses, tests, reports and models from outside experts and environmental scientists on the proposed program to extract the phosphate sands. The extensive report demonstrates that there will be minimal environmental impact, closely paralleling the extensively studied aggregate dredging programs currently in operation off the coast of the United Kingdom.
“Between 2002 and 2011, I was the marine science coordinator for an approximately $50 million research program funded through the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) known as the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF). Knowledge based on the results of work funded through the ALSF has been brought to bear on the ‘Don Diego’ TSHD project, and leading independent expertise from the UK dredging industry has played a central role in the assessment of potential impacts,” continued Newell.
While the entire Oceanica concession area stretches to the shoreline, the proposed dredging is in a significantly smaller area located in waters 70-90 meters deep and centered approximately 40 kilometers offshore and does not overlap any fishing concessions.
The high phosphate band is in the Mexican Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), but outside territorial waters, and the proposed dredging plan covers less than ¼ of 1% of the concession area per year (1.7 square kilometers). The proposed project area is a distinct deposit which features very high phosphate content and does not overlap areas previously explored by other groups in shallower waters nearer shore featuring much lower phosphate content.
Press Release, July 30, 2014