MAC: Mines and Communities

Mexico rejects coastal phosphate mining project

Published by MAC on 2016-04-18
Source: Royal Gazette,, AIDA

Odyssey Marine Exploration's shares sink as a result

US based Odyssey Marine Exploration's stock plummeted by nearly 60 percent after it disclosed that the Mexican government has denied the company's application to dredge for phosphate sand off the coast of Mexico.

On 14 April 2015, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) criticised the environmental environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the Don Diego phosphate-mining project in Ulloa Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico. (See:

According to AIDA, the project could cause irreversible damage to an ecologically vulnerable and biodiverse region that includes Magdalena Bay, a mangrove ecosystem considered a 'Marine Region of Importance'.

The exposed toxic sediments, along with the dredging and noise of the mining operation, would alter the habitat of endangered species, such as whales and turtles, while putting at risk fishing and tourism activities that provide livelihoods for the region’s coastal communities.

David Saul, the former premier of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda from 1995 to 1997, is a major shareholder in the Florida-headquartered company.

Saul’s marine firm sinks on Mexico setback

Scott Neil

12 April 2016

Shares of shipwreck hunting and deep-ocean exploration company Odyssey Marine Exploration sank faster than a badly-holed galleon yesterday, dropping almost 60 per cent from their Friday closing price.

However, David Saul, the former premier who is a director and major shareholder of the Florida-headquartered business, is optimistic the company will rebound from a setback that resulted in its share price falling so steeply.

Odyssey Marine Exploration has made headlines in the past for high profile discoveries, including the wrecks of SS Republic, SS Central America and HMS Victory.

The company is in the business of discovering and recovering valuable treasures from the seabed, such as the cargo of shipwrecks or seafloor minerals.

It was news regarding the latter that sent its shares into a nosedive on the Nasdaq.

The company is seeking to dredge and extract phosphate sand off the coast of Mexico, in what it calls the “Don Diego” project. But its application for an environmental licence to do so has been rejected by the Mexican Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources.

The refusal was centred on concern about the welfare of sea turtles in the area of the proposed project.

“The denial was focused only on a single issue, the potential impact of dredging operations on sea turtles, which we believe was based on misinformation,” said Mark Gordon, president of Odyssey Marine Exploration.

“Fortunately, we have been working with the world’s foremost experts in sea turtle biology and management to develop turtle protection, habitat enhancement and monitoring programmes.”

In his statement, Mr Gordon said it was hoped that once this information is presented to the Mexican government and authorities “it will be clear that the Don Diego project will have a significant positive impact on the local and migratory turtle populations, and that the ultimate approval of our project will enhance the local turtle populations”.

Meanwhile in Bermuda, Dr Saul, who is the second biggest individual shareholder of the company, owning more than 1.2 million shares, said: “Now that we know the specific reason why they turned down the applications, we think we have an answer for that.”

He said the phosphate resource identified in the “Don Diego” project would help provide fertiliser for agricultural use in Mexico.

Odyssey Marine Exploration’s market capital was estimated at $63 million last week, but dropped to $25 million yesterday after its shares, which traded at $8.37 on Friday, closed at $3.45.

Tampa's Odyssey Marine stock drops 59 percent after Mexico denies phosphate project

11 April 2016

Tampa treasure hunter Odyssey Marine Exploration's stock plummeted nearly 60 percent Monday after it disclosed the Mexican government denied the company's application to mine a large deposit of phosphate — a key component of fertilizer — in Mexican waters.

The mining operation, dubbed the "Don Diego" project, has been promoted for some time by Odyssey as a significant piece of its future revenues and efforts to broaden its business beyond finding and salvaging the cargo of sunken ships.

Odyssey shares fell 58.8 percent, closing at $3.45 on the Nasdaq, a loss in net worth for the company of more than $25 million.

Odyssey CEO Mark Gordon expressed disappointment but noted that Mexico's denial was based on a single issue — the potential impact of dredging operations on sea turtles — that he suggested might have a solution.

Odyssey is consulting with turtle experts to develop ways to help preserve sea turtles and their habitats, Gordon said. Once this information is presented to the Mexican authorities, Gordon believes the phosphate project may be reconsidered.

"The Don Diego project will proactively fund mitigation and restoration plans designed to increase turtle populations over time," Odyssey said in a statement.

Odyssey has been struggling to boost its stock price for years and recently was warned by Nasdaq that its low share price was out of compliance with trading rules. In February, the company announced a 1-for-12 reverse stock split, effectively raising its sub-$1 price at the time.

The stock topped $9 a share by April 4 but has since dropped sharply.

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