The “Don Diego” project is a rich deposit of phosphate sands recently identified in Mexico’s Exclusive Economic Zone, beyond its Territorial Waters. This discovery will bring important benefits for the country’s agricultural development.
The name “Don Diego” is inspired by the important explorer of Baja California Sur, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, the first cousin of Hernán Cortés. Diego Hurtado de Mendoza is remembered for having embarked on the first explorations throughout the coast of the Mexican Pacific. He and his crew disappeared in 1532.
The deposit is located in the northeast of the Pacific Ocean, approximately 40 kilometers from the coast in the Bay of Ulloa, in Baja California Sur. The deposit is, according to recent calculations, one of the largest and most important in the continent.
The dredging of this site would allow Mexico to stop its dependence on phosphate imports and ultimately transform it into a phosphate-exporting nation. This would strengthen Mexico’s food security. This is a key element to the “War on Hunger” supported by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The dredging will be attained through a Trailer Suction Hopper Dredger (TSHD). Its impacts have been widely studied in European waters and elsewhere, and there is no doubt that this technology is the most advanced and causes the least environmental impact. Nonetheless, extra precautions will be considered, including a “green valve”, “tickler chains” and deflectors. These will help reduce the dispersal plume significantly, ensuring that it is carried below the area where phytoplankton is reproduced.
No chemical is introduced during the dredging and processing of aggregates. The phosphate is extracted mechanically and only shells and oversized material are returned to the seabed. This is done in a way that creates uneven topography on the seabed, which results in an improvement of the fish population.
For more information, please consult the Non-Technical Summary of the EIA, available at: www.dondiego.mx/downloads