With the recent world demand for potash and phosphate, primarily for the fertilizer markets and with recent developments in marine mining techniques, it is now a viable proposition to mine phosphate from offshore sources.
Thick phosphate deposits have been recognised on the Southern African shelf since a series of investigative programmes which commenced in 1967, mapping and sampling on the shelf.
In 2004, Bonaparte Diamond Mines NL, acquired exploration licenses off Namibia, which were considered prospective for phosphate mineralization. With the dramatic increase in the price of rock phosphate in 2007, the Company decided to investigate the Meob project further, taking a first set of reconnaissance sediment samples, which showed phosphate mineralisation in the fine sediment fractions of up to 24%. Bonaparte then lodged applications for a further nine licenses offshore Namibia.
The Meob Project (EPL3323) lies in water depths of 100-250m between Luderitz and Walvis Bay. The reconnaissance sampling campaign showed phosphate grades to be consistent with the historical sampling and between 1-18% phosphate, increasing with sediment size screening and normalisation for the removal of carbonates. in 2008, Bonaparte carried out a second bulk sampling programme acquiring 650 samples from the Meob licence area.