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Key Environmental Features

In 2012, ExO was granted a 50-year mining license by Mexico (extendable for another 50 years at ExO’s option) for the deposit that lies 25-40 km offshore in Baja California Sur. The company spent more than three years preparing an environmentally sustainable development plan with the assistance of experts in marine dredging and leading environmental scientists from around the world.

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Key features of the environmental plan include:

  • No chemicals would be used in the dredging process or released into the sea.

  • A specialized return down pipe that exceeds international best practices to manage the return of dredged sands close to the seabed, limiting plume or impact to the water column and marine ecosystem (including primary production).

  • The seabed would be restored after dredging in such a way as to promote rapid regeneration of seabed organisms in dredged areas.

  • Ecotoxicology tests demonstrated that the dredging and return of sediment to the seabed would not have toxic effects on organisms.

  • Sound propagation studies concluded that noise levels generated during dredging would be similar to whale-watching vessels, merchant ships and fisherman’s ships that already regularly transit this area, proving the system is not a threat to marine mammals.

  • Dredging limited to less than one square kilometer each year, which means the project would operate in only a tiny proportion of the concession area each year.

  • Proven turtle protection measures were incorporated even though the deposit and the dredging activity are much deeper and colder than where turtles feed and live, making material harm to the species unfeasible.

  • There will be no material impact on local fisheries as fishermen have historically avoided the water column directly above the deposit due to the naturally low occurrence of fish there.

  • The project would not be visible from the shoreline and would not impact tourism or coastal activities.

  • Precautionary mitigation measures were incorporated into the development plan in line with best-practice global operational standards.

  • The technology proposed to recover the phosphate sands has been safely used in Mexican waters for over 20 years on more than 200 projects by ExO’s operating partner.

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