Odyssey Marine provides update on Mexican phosphate project
Odyssey Marine provided an update on subsidiary Exploraciones Oceanicas, or ExO's, phosphate project in Mexico. Notably, Odyssey here advises of an additional legal step it has taken to defend shareholder interests and realize the full economic value in the development of the project. As of 2012 the Mexican government granted ExO concessions for the development of a seabed phosphate deposit, more than 22 kilometers off the coast of Baja California Sur. Odyssey believes that phosphate sands extracted from the deposit could supply most of North America's fertilizer needs for the next 100 years. ExO has placed responsible environmental development of the phosphate resource at the heart of its plans. ExO spent six years working to the scientific standards to demonstrate that the concession can be developed in an environmentally responsible manner causing no long- or even short-term negative effects on the local marine environment. ExO worked closely with scientists from Mexico's Ministry of the Environment. Despite this, the Secretary of the Environment, Rafael Pacchiano, led an initial denial of approval in April 2016. ExO appealed that negative decision to Mexico's Superior Tribunal of Administrative Justice. In March 2018 a unanimous full bench of the Tribunal confirmed that the initial decision failed to comport with Mexican law, in that it failed to consider the actual circumstances of the project and the extensive environmental mitigation measures ExO had proposed. The Tribunal sent the issue back to SEMARNAT for a proper decision in compliance with the agency's statutory obligations. In October 2018 SEMARNAT issued a second refusal. Odyssey has full confidence in the environmental and economic merits of its venture in Mexico. It also intends to take all necessary steps to protect this valuable shareholder asset. In these circumstances, to protect its rights and to defend shareholder value, on January 4, Odyssey formally filed notice of its intention, or NOI, to file a claim against Mexico under Chapter Eleven of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Filing a NOI initiates a consultation period during which Odyssey and the Mexican Government will seek amicably to resolve this dispute.