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AMEC the potash specialist

Summary

AMEC is a supplier of high-value consultancy, engineering and project management services to the energy, power and process industries throughout the world, enjoying global revenues of nearly C$5 billion. Potash makes a significant contribution to the company's Canadian portfolio.

Abstract

AMEC is a leading provider of mining, process, engineering and construction services to potash producers, undertaking studies and projects at potash mines and mills. Drawing from a team of more than 9,000 engineers and technicians in the Americas, AMEC applies its operations and consulting expertise to assess deposits, supervise pilot plant and metallurgical testing, conduct feasibility studies and prepare efficient and cost-effective mine and plant designs for the expansion of existing operations and new “greenfield” projects. AMEC’s specialist products and services cover the following facets of potash mining and processing:

  • Mining methods
  • Potash beneficiation processes – crystallisation
  • Potash beneficiation processes – flotation.

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Blue sky thinking at Clearwater

Summary

The Central Florida Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) held its 33rd Annual Clearwater Convention at the welcoming venue of the Sheraton Sand Key Resort on Clearwater Beach on 12-13 June. An examination of current issues in sulphuric acid and phosphoric acid technology prompted the familiar lively exchange of views and ideas: the Clearwater formula is one that definitely works.

Abstract

Welcoming participants to the 2009 Clearwater Conference, Chair Robert Andrew said, “Our Central Florida Chapter has worked hard to organise the conference and we want your experience to be great!” His wish was assuredly fulfilled as this year’s meeting again met the goal of convening a forum for the exchange of ideas and viewpoints in a relaxing ambience.

The 2009 Clearwater meeting was held on Friday and Saturday, 12-13 June and comprised two half-day sessions. The conference began with the 12th Annual Sulphuric Acid Workshop, which was again expertly chaired by Rick Davies and Jim Dougherty. The topic this year was the Design, Implementation and Maintenance of Storage Tanks. This embraced sulphuric acid tanks, molten sulphur tanks and spent acid storage tanks and took the form of presentations from four industry experts, followed by a panel discussion.

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New challenges in the EU-27

Summary

The latest EFMA forecasts show a potential reversal of the long-term downward trend in fertilizer consumption but highlight a possible threat to the long-term profitability of the surviving regional industry via Emission Trading Schemes.

Abstract

Historically, the Western Europe was the birthplace of the modern fertilizer industry, pioneering the first large-scale applications of a balanced portfolio of nutrients and developing the technology that could supply these nutrients economically and efficiently. Down the years, other regions picked up the baton and developed their own indigenous fertilizer industries, many of them challenging the Western European producers in their own home markets. In many key aspects, the Western Europeans lost some of their traditional competitive advantages, especially in the field of raw materials and feedstocks. Thus, some 2-3 decades ago as the North African countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria began to exploit their indigenous reserves of phosphate rock and developed world-scale downstream phosphate industries, most Western European producers were no longer able to compete in the sector and duly retreated. Similarly, while nitrogen producers were able to draw on supplies of natural gas from the North Sea, the cost of exploiting this gas was far higher than in the Arab Gulf, the Soviet Union and the Caribbean, and thus the longstanding Western European nitrogen producers lost out in international markets to more recently-established competitors.

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MicroEssentials close the nutrient gap

Summary

Three-in-one plant nutrients are a unique selling point of the Mosaic Company. Having gained much renown via its K-Mag potassium magnesium sulphate (profiled in Fertilizer International in May/June 2009), Mosaic has recently launched a range of multinutrient fertilizers that provide a breakthrough in nutrient use efficiency.

Abstract

Just one year ago, the Mosaic Company launched a new, advanced nutrition technology that offers farmers a new deal in multinutrient fertilizers. Under the MicroEssentials® brand-name, Mosaic’s new technology has been proven to raise the phosphorus uptake of crops by 10-30% and enhance plants’ utilisation of other nutrients as well. Using MAP (monoammonium phosphate) as the basis, MicroEssentials augments nitrogen and phosphorus with a third key nutrient, sulphur. The sulphur in turn takes two forms: elemental and ammonium sulphate. Using a patented production process, Mosaic’s MicroEssentials combine these three nutrients in the correct ratio and in uniformly sized granules. Thus, growers are assured of the consistent distribution of all nutrients needed by the plants, maximising nutrient use efficiencies.

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Hope sustains the farmer and his suppliers

Summary

After a tough 12 months, the leading North American fertilizer producers see reasons for optimism.

Abstract

After the shocks came the caution. As the economic downturn took hold in late 2008, farmers – like most other consumers – became exceedingly cautious. The result in North America has been an unprecedented decline in nutrient use. While US farmers have in the past generally avoided dramatic swings in fertilizer application, recognising the need to maintain the fertility of their soils over time, they broke with precedent in the 2008/09 fertilizer year and reduced total fertilizer use by an estimated 15-20%. (Focus on Fertilizer, PotashCorp [July 2009].) In the banner year of 2007, US farmers used about 22.5 million tonnes nutrient of fertilizers. Preliminary data for 2008/09 indicated a fall to around 18.5 million tonnes – levels not seen since 1983, a year when crop production was approximately half of current crop demand.

North American fertilizer producers were obliged to respond to the downturn in demand by curtailing production and idling capacity. The Fertilizer Record published by The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) shows the stark reality of the downturn. Production of ammonium nitrate between July 2008 and July 2009 totalled 146,000 s.tons – 23% down on the 2008 year-to-date total, while urea production in the 2008/09 year-to-date of 220,000 s.tons was 14% down on 12 months previously. There were commensurate cuts in phosphate fertilizer production, ranging between 14% and 16%. Combined production of DAP and MAP was 1.046 million s.tons, 15% down on the July 2008 year-to-date total.

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KBR's ammonia expertise helps the group reposition

Summary

In 2007, Houston, Texas-based KBR, Inc. was spun off from its parent company, Halliburton, after a 44-year association. How has the global engineering, construction and services company fared since then?

Abstract

KBR Inc. has been involved in the licensing, design, engineering and construction of more than 200 ammonia plants worldwide, representing approximately one half of current global ammonia production. The US company has been on the leading edge of advanced ammonia technology for the past 60 years. Long recognised worldwide for their reliable performance, competitive cost, low energy consumption, and superior on-stream time, ammonia plants utilising KBR technology serve as benchmarks for the world nitrogen fertilizer industry.

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Harnessing igneous phosphate rock

Summary

Historically, the world's phosphate industry has been based mainly on phosphate rocks which have been sedimentary in origin. In recent years, the availability of high-grade products from these geological formations has been declining. Can igneous material plug the gap?

Abstract

Commercial mineral phosphates belong to a broad category of apatite and are generally found in two forms in nature, namely:

  • Sedimentary deposits
  • Igneous intrusions.

Sedimentary rocks originated some 50-70 million years ago in shallow lakes and seas from decomposing animal life. (All Rock Phosphates Are Not the Same, Dr. Gert van der Linde, Fertilizer Society of South Africa.) This type of phosphate is the main source of commercial mineral phosphates and accounts for about 85% of world production. Sedimentary rock phosphates differ from igneous phosphates in that significant amounts of calcium (Ca) were replaced by magnesium and sodium (Na), while as much as 25% of the phosphorus (P) was replaced by carbonates (CO3).

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Migao pursues a fast-track strategy

Summary

Migao Corporation is based in China with a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It commenced operations in 2003 and rapidly emerged as China's leading supplier of speciality potassium sulphate and potassium nitrate. To date, Migao operates solely in China but it has longer-term ambitions to play a role in international markets, as evidenced by its recent joint venture with SQM of Chile.

Abstract

In the space of just six years since its foundation in 2003, Migao Corporation has established leadership in China’s speciality potash sector. The company is registered in Canada but operates from four locations in China at present. Additional facilities are being constructed in Shanghai, Tianjin and Zunyi. Migao produces two speciality potash-based fertilizers, namely potassium nitrate and potassium sulphate. These two products account for 85% of the company’s revenue. The balance of revenue comes from the sale of fertilizer manufacturing by-products, including ammonium chloride fertilizer and hydrochloric acid.

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