OCP Group, the leading global phosphate soil and plant nutrition player is betting on a series of “ambitious” plans of desalination and water management to cement its status as a global pioneer in corporate responsibility.
Rabat – In what looks like a strategic recalibration, OCP Group is putting together an “ambitious,” boldly climate-friendly program to reduce its consumption of water and foster its sustainability status. Building on OCP’s current contribution to Morocco’s largely appreciated environment-friendly efforts, the program projects considerable reduction in OCP’s water consumption by 2030.
The figures are impressive and show a spirited determination to embrace emerging, eco-friendly technologies. Key in OCP’s ecological recalibration is its colossal investments in desalination and wastewater treatment plants and the optimization efforts to achieve water security amid a deteriorating, worldwide climate crisis.
Since the start of its industrial program in 2008, OCP Group has taken the proactive decision to abandon underground water resources considered as a strategic resource for Morocco and has developed an integrated and sustainable water program.
The program would allow the Moroccan company to achieve industrial growth objectives while preserving national water resources.
Desalination and water management
A large part of OCP’s “ambitious” sustainability-driven program rests on: an integrated and optimized water management throughout the value chain; the use of non-conventional water resources, namely purified urban wastewater and desalinated seawater; as well as an important R&D and innovation program.
For the Moroccan company, a wholehearted embrace of climate-consciousness and self-imposed corporate responsibility goals is part and parcel in its drive to broaden and deepen both its activities and reputation as a trusted leader on the sustainability front.
By making the proactive decision of abandoning groundwater, considered as a strategic resource for Morocco, OCP Group hopes to position itself as a leading company in prosperous and sustainable industrial growth.
Not only do the current figures defend the company’s self-perception as a promoter of record-beating eco-friendly corporate actions but they also show — and this is important for a corporate giant that is crucial to Morocco’s increasingly positive reputation in Africa and elsewhere — a company far ahead on the global sustainability curve.
Daring but achievable ambitions
Concretely, 100% of the OCP Group’s industrial water needs will be met from non-conventional water (treated wastewater and desalinated water) by 2030, according to projections. This is part of an ambitious program aiming at the realization of several urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) and the industrial reuse of the treated water.
From the company’s perspective, prioritizing the reuse of purified domestic wastewater in the context of climate challenges and resource depletion is one of the surest ways of putting forth its enormous contributions to the protection of the environment and the preservation of natural freshwater resources.
While OCP Group’s projected goals look adventurously ambitious, the company’s current figures suggest its projections are achievable.
Presently, OCP’s Merah Lahrach washing plant in the Fquih Ben Salah province is the world’s first phosphate-washing facility that uses purified wastewater from the wastewater treatment plant of the city of Khouribga in the Beni Mellal-Khenifra region. The unit has a capacity of 5 million cubic meters of water per year and has treated approximately 45 million cubic meters since its commissioning in 2010.
There are two other wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) units operating in the Benguerir and Youssoufia mining sites, “thus bringing the industrial reuse of wastewater treated by OCP Group to about 10 million m3 per year,” according to data compiled by the company. Even more, OCP Group has commissioned several feasibility studies to cement its leadership position in the industrial reuse of treated wastewater.
But there is more. OCP Group recycles over 80% of the water used in the phosphate enrichment process by washing-flotation, where sludge water is recycled and mostly recovered and reinjected into the process. Water consumption in OCP Group’s new industrial units has been reduced by 25% through the adoption of new state-of-the-art technologies.
Clean and efficient energy is another area where OCP Group is highlighting its commitment to sustainable development.
The company’s slurry pipeline, a particularly eco-friendly hydraulic transport method, allows for a high degree of energy optimization. The realisation of this slurry pipeline allows the elimination of 930,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year,OCP Group quantified.
But standing out in OCP Group’s commitment to sustainable and socially responsible growth is the Jorf Lasfar industrial plant.
Since 2016, the facility has been supplied in water by the largest desalination plant in Morocco with an annual capacity of 25 million cubic meters. It also uses a reverse osmosis process in its treatment of sewage water, a freshwater production process that OCP has mastered since the start-up of the OCP desalination plant in Laayoune in 2006.
The extension project of the Jorf Lasfar station, scheduled to be commissioned in 2022, is projected to allow the plant to reach a total capacity of 40 million cubic meters per year. Other desalination stations are being studied on the sites of Jorf Lasfar, Safi, and Laâyoune,
Leading global debates on sustainability
The goal is to help reduce OCP Group’s water consumption by 15% by 2024, thus contributing to the national effort in terms of water security. However, the overarching ambition is to establish OCP Group as Morocco’s leading sustainability-driven and socially responsible company, a regional trailblazer for sustainable innovations, and a global pioneer in wastewater management and “smart agriculture.”
The projections come amid a flurry of encouraging news for OCP’s regional and global sustainability ambitions.
In Africa, the company has already secured a good reputation for the momentous changes it has brought to continental conversations about food security and sustainable agriculture. Since launching OCP Africa in 2016, the company has evolved to become a continental leading light for “smart agriculture.”
In late 2020, OCP took the first concrete steps in the materialization of its “Restore Africa Soils” platform. As the continent wraps its head around achieving food security in the challenging decades ahead, the project aims to drive much-needed continental conversations on the “continuity of training on reasoned fertilization on geographic information systems” to allow African soils to resist or adapt to emerging environmental constraints.
Worldwide, meanwhile, OCP’s notable investments in sustainable development have not gone unnoticed. In November 2019, the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) granted the company its Industry Stewardship Gold Medal to the OCP Group for the second year in a row.
The award acknowledged both OCP’s promotion of the “best safety standards” at its industrial sites and its commitment to sustainability-driven innovation in the field of agriculture. For OCP Group, the international accolades it has so far received speak volumes about its pioneering role in devising an excellent ecological response to its industrial needs.