Dallol is a village located in the Danakil Desert, northern Ethiopia. Known as the hottest place year-round on Earth, Dallol holds the official record for record high average temperature for an inhabited location (35°C). Extreme weather conditions coupled with complete isolation make of Dallol one of the most remote places on the planet. The area is rich of a key component of fertilizer: Potash.
Potash is not rare, but Dallol conditions are unique for mining as salt deposits allow drilling with low-tech requirements. The discovery was made by the Italian brothers Adriano and Tullio Pastori, who managed in 1912 to get a 35-year mining lease from the Ethiopian Negus. Five years later the permission was sold to the Compagnia mineraria coloniale (Cmc), which dared to operate in such a prohibitive site. Production stopped after World War I due to larger-scale supplies from Germany. Between 1920 and 1941 several attempts to reopen production failed. The mining infrastructure was deliberately damaged after World War II, preventing the chance to restore its activity.
Today the Dallol mining site looks an abandoned place, where only the ruins of salt-block walls remain, surrounded by few rusted trucks and boilers. In spite of all the hurdles, Dallol is still capable of attracting interest: the Ethiopian government is looking for a new partner to develop the potash mine abandoned in 2016 by Israel Chemicals, which accused the government of failing to support the project and sought a $198 million compensation at the Court of Arbitration in The Hague. To develop potash market, Ethiopia remains one of the primary goals of the Ethiopian government to stay Africa’s fastest-growing economy over the past decade.