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The competition for business intensifies

Summary

The Baltic ports of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all ready for the imminent enlargement of the European Union, having made considerable investments in their infrastructure and the facilities offered by dedicated terminals. They have also enjoyed a considerable boom in the trade in fertilizers and associated raw materials, having continued to serve as a window to the world for exports from Russia, despite the latter country's efforts to build up the facilities of the indigenous ports.

Abstract

Of the eight countries currently expected to join an enlarged EU, four have coastlines along the Baltic Sea. Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are due to join Germany, Sweden and Finland among the EU members with direct access to the Baltic Sea, and a mini-Common Market of Baltic economies is already beginning to emerge. The Baltic Sea is also the Russian Federation’s vital “window to the west”. The Baltic Sea region is Europe’s fastest growing market, with a population of over 90 million. The total cargo market amounted to 234 million tonnes in 2002, increasing in volume by nearly 9 % on the 2001 total of 208 million tonnes. Compe­tition is intense between the leading ports in the region. These ports include St. Peters­burg (Russia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Vent­spils (Latvia), while others vie for niche and specialised segments of business. Fig. 1 shows the cargo throughput of the major Baltic ports in 2002.

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Moving to the head of the pack

Summary

As the volumes of fertilizers produced and imported in Brazil break new records, the leading players are investing in new facilities. Among these companies is the Fosfertil/Ultrafertil group, which has upgraded its Santos terminal.

Abstract

The Brazilian fertilizer market is enjoying a boom. Last year, fertilizer deliveries in Brazil rose to 19.1 million tonnes, an increase of 12 % on the 2001 total of 17.1 million tonnes. Domestic production increased by 6 % to 8.1 million tonnes, with the largest year-on-year changes in output being seen in ammonium nitrate (+16 %), urea (+22 %) and TSP (a decline of 19 %). Domestic production of potash grew in 2002 by 5 % to 627,000 tonnes.

Fertilizer imports into Brazil increased by 7.7 % to 10.5 million tonnes. Imports accounted for 57 % of the total Brazilian market – a steadily rising share. The most significant changes in year-on-year supplies were noted in ammonium nitrate (+22 %) and urea (+15 %). The full changes in Brazil’s fertilizer production and imports are shown in Table 1 below.

Agriculture accounts for around 15 % of Brazil’s GDP. Brazilian agriculture is well diversified and the country is largely self-sufficient in food. On a value basis, production is an estimated 60 % field crops and 40 % livestock. Brazil is a net exporter of agricultural and food products, which account for over 35 % of the country’s exports.

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Fosbrasil: Brazil's purified phosacid producer

Summary

In its 15 year history Fosbrasil has increased the capacity of its purified phosphoric acid plant and improved its feed acid flexibility and product grade range. Paul Smith presents a profile of the operation.

Abstract

Fosbrasil, the largest purified phosphoric acid plant in South America, has just celebrated its 15th birthday. In those 15 years many changes have occurred in its ownership, in the raw materials it uses and in the plant equipment.

The plant, which is situated in Cajati, 240 km from the city of São Paulo, began production in 1987. Originally the company was a joint venture with four partners: Monsanto (44.25 %), Quimbrasil, (44.25 %), Prayon (5.75 %) and SBI (Société Belge de Investissement) (5.75 %). Prayon later purchased the shares of SBI and now holds 11.5 %. The chemical interests of Monsanto later became Solutia, which has now formed a joint venture company, Astaris, with FMC. Quimbrasil was incorporated into the mining arm of the Santista group, Serrana. In turn, Serrana purchased many of the smaller fertilizer companies in Brazil (Fertisul, Elekeiroz, Ouro Verde, IAP & Manah) and renamed itself Bunge Fertilizantes.

 

The three operating partners each had inherent reasons for forming the joint venture. Quimbrasil had the raw materials, with a phosphate mine and phosphoric acid plant in Cajati; Monsanto had the market, with an industrial phosphates plant in São José dos Campos; and Prayon had the solvent extraction technology for phosphoric acid purification.

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SF Phosphates cleans up in the west

Summary

SF Phosphates was concerned about the environmental impact of its MAP production operations at its Rock Springs complex in Wyoming, which generated high levels of fluorine. The company turned to Alfa Laval, which installed new plate heat exchangers that reduced the amount of fluorine being sent to the cooling tower by 50 %.

Abstract

The J. R. Simplot Company is committed to phosphate rock mining operations in the western United States. The company has considerable experience in mining, as in addition to phosphates, it has been involved in mining gold, silica, barite, iron, fluorspar, manganese, monzalite and uranium. Today, J. R. Sim­plot Co. operates the Smoky Canyon phosphate rock mine in Idaho, and has a partnership with Farmland Industries in the large SF Phosphates mine near Vernal, Utah. The phosphate ore from Vernal is transported via a 154-km slurry pipeline to the downstream manufacturing complex at Rock Springs, Wyoming. This has the capacity to produce 438,000 t/a MAP/DAP and 114,000 t/a of superphosphoric acid.

Of the estimated total US production of 35.8 million tonnes of phosphate rock in 2002, the western states of Idaho and Utah accounted for some 6.1 million tonnes, or 17 % of the total. The deposits of phosphate rock found in the Permian sediments of Montana, Utah, Wyoming and Idaho cover around 350,000 km2 and represent the largest accumulation of phosphate in North America, forming the Western Phos­phate Field. The reserves are estimated to total 1.6 billion tonnes at 24 % P2O5, and constitute around 30 % of US reserves and 3 % of the world total.

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A fresh impetus in Thailand

Summary

Just over one year ago, the long-mooted Asia Pacific Resources' Udon Thani potash project appeared to have become irredeemably stalled, as two keynote partners withdrew from the venture. While market analysts gave the project little hope of coming on stream in the near future, a new management team was brought in. A few weeks ago, as described by Yolanda Torrisi, APR submitted applications for four mining leases to the Thai government, suggesting that the project is back on track with a new vigour.

Abstract

After almost ten years buried in mining obscurity, Asia Pacific Potash Corporation’s Udon Pot­ash Project, located in north east Thailand, 50 km from the border with Laos, may finally surface as a world-class mining operation. In late May, the company lodged its Mining Lease Application for four leases covering a total area of 3,600 ha (8,900 acres). This will allow the development of an underground mine covering approximately 2,500 ha (6,175 acres).

Asia Pacific Potash Corporation (APPC) and its former entity Thai Agrico have held an agreement with the Thai government since 1984, when Thai Agrico was named the successful bidder for sole exploration rights of Thailand’s as yet undeveloped potash deposits. In 1984, the Thai government called for bids for the sole exploration rights of potash mining in the country. Thai Agrico was granted a ten-year concessional agreement to explore the potential development of Thailand’s potash industry. The contract was renegotiated in 1994, which coincided with the renaming of Thai Agrico as Asia Pacific Potash Corporation.

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