Israel Chemicals brings forward salt harvesting

The salt harvesting from the floor of the Dead Sea's southern basin will prevent the flooding of the hotels at Ein Bokek.

Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL) plans to begin the salt harvesting of the southern basin of the Dead Sea a year ahead of its commitment to the government. The company will announce within a month the purchase of the first dredge for the salt harvesting. The dredge will be chosen by international tender, in which five US and European companies are participating, and is due for delivery in early 2015.

Israel Chemicals' Mashivim division will begin the salt harvesting immediately after receiving the dredge. The salt harvesting from the floors of the industrial pools is intended to halt the rise in the water level and prevent the flooding of the hotels at Ein Bokek.

The dredge and its ancillary equipment will reportedly cost $50 million. The dredge's blade will cut into the floor of industrial pool 5, where Dead Sea Works Ltd., a unit of ICL Fertilizers, carries out its potash extraction operations. The dredge will remove the salt strata which have accumulated on the floor of the industrial pool and send the salt via a 30-kilometer conveyor belt to the northern Dead Sea basin.

The dredge, which is 80 meters long and 15 meters wide, has an electric motor to minimize noise pollution in the area.

The salt harvesting to which Israel Chemicals committed after negotiations with the government, will cost over NIS 3.7 billion through 2030.

Mashivim director Noam Goldstein said that the salt harvesting could begin ahead of schedule because the dredge manufacturers participating in the tender could deliver the first dredge in early 2015, partly because the global economic crisis has reduced demand for dredges. "We're well prepared for the project, and we'll meet the timetable and budget for it," he told "Globes".

Dead Sea Works says that one dredge is not enough to meet the salt harvesting targets, and that the lessons learned from the first dredge's operation will be used to update the specifications to estimate the total number of dredges needed - probably two more.

With the early delivery of the first dredge, Dead Sea Works is preparing for the conveyor belt to carry the dredged salt to the Dead Sea's northern basin. The company is preparing to contract with a leading international engineering firm to design and build the conveyor belt. The conveyor belt, which will be one of the largest and longest in the world, will carry 20 million tons of salt a year. 80,000-100,000 tons of salt a day will be dumped onto the floor of the northern basin, but the company has not decided how to do this: either by special dredge, or by fluidizing the salt and pumping it under high pressure to the basin floor. A decision will be taken after tests and surveys by experts.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 30, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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