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Publication > Issue > Articles

Arab World fertilizer producers prove their resilience

Summary

In a highly challenging year for the international fertilizer industry, suppliers in the Arab region have continued to thrive, announcing further new projects to provide added value. Significantly, an increasing number of these projects involve partnerships with overseas companies. Dr. Shafik Ashkar, Secretary of the Arab Fertilizer Association, shows how the Arab fertilizer producers will consolidate their competitive strengths during the coming years.

Abstract

Between 2-4 February 2010, the Arab Fertilizer Association will host its 16th Annual International Forum and Exhibition in Cairo. The theme this year is A Further Step Ahead. The meeting takes place against the background of the increasing demand to raise agricultural productivity and efficiency in order to meet the challenges of a growing world population and alternative uses for the available agricultural land. The FAO estimates that to meet the demands of the forecast 2.3 billion extra people by 2050, food production will need to increase by 70%. This, along with continuing efforts to overcome poverty and hunger, achieve more efficient use of scarce natural resources and adapt to climate change, places the international fertilizer industry in the front line.

The World Summit on Food Security convened in Rome in November 2009. The meeting stressed the need to produce food where the poor and the hungry live and to boost agricultural investment in these regions. As people require to be fed, agriculture is faced with the twin challenge of producing food for a rapidly growing population while maintaining the world’s fragile resources. This forecast increase in population must also be considered against the context of more than one billion people who remain chronically undernourished in the world, together with the 20% estimated decrease in global grain stocks.

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China sets its sights on African potash projects

Summary

Special correspondent Elle Clarkson reviews progress with the potash projects being mooted in the Republic of Congo (ROC) and Ethiopia.

Abstract

Government-owned Chinese companies with large treasuries are anxious to secure enough minerals to sustain their country’s economic growth, and Africa is one continent where China’s appetite for assets seems undiminished. A number of the continent’s copper mining operations and oil exploration projects in particular have attracted the interest of Chinese investors, but now Africa’s potash mining projects are also drawing their attention.

Since June 2009, two major Chinese state-owned firms have entered into preliminary agreements with the Canadian exploration juniors, MagIndustries Corporation and Allana Resources Inc. Both Canadian companies have projects to develop potash solution mines and processing plants in Africa, MagIndustries in the Republic of Congo (ROC) and Allana Resources in Ethiopia. If the deals go through, they could resolve the funding problems of the two projects and see Chinese companies take substantial stakes.

In late September 2009, MagIndustries revealed that the prospective investor with whom it was in discussion was China’s Sinohydro Corporation. Sinohydro is a major state-owned engineering contractor, which started out as a builder of hydro-power schemes and undertakes a wide range of infrastructure projects. It reported sales of more than $9 billion in 2008.

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Government issues a wake-up call

Summary

Will 2010 be a year of major change in the Brazilian fertilizer industry?

Abstract

The Brazilian government is seeking new sources of fertilizers as it seeks to boost production of soybeans, sugar cane, coffee and biofuels. Brazil’s agriculture is highly diversified and accounts for 8% of the country’s GDP. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee and sugar cane, and is a significant exporter of cocoa, soybeans, citrus and other tropical fruits and nuts. The expansion of the export-oriented agricultural sector has been marked since the mid-1990s, and fertilizer consumption has risen to over 10 million tonnes nutrient. After falling back to around 9.2-9.3 million tonnes in 2008-09, the demand for fertilizers in Brazil is expected to resume its upward trend this year, as shown in Table 1.

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Engineering and equipment: You're never far from a Comspain plant

Summary

We profile the Spanish supplier of speciality engineering equipment.

Abstract

During the past year, Comspain XXI S.A. has added four major projects to its portfolio of fertilizer industry references. On behalf of Intecsa Industrial (ACS Group) and Litwin/Ma’aden Phosphate Company (MPC), Comspain has been contracted to supply four complete granulation lines for the 2.90 million t/a DAP/MAP plant and handling equipment (reclaimers, stackers, scrappers, belt conveyors, silos, wagon dischargers, etc.) for the Material Handling and Phosphoric Acid Plant that are being constructed for Ma’aden Phosphate Company (a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia Mining Company) in Ras Az Zawr. Also in 2009, Comspain was awarded the contract to supply Bunge Maroc Phosphore of Morocco with a complete double-line granulation plant that will enable the Brazilian/Moroccan joint venture to produce 340,000 t/a of DAP/MAP and 270,000 t/a of TSP. El Nasr Co. for Intermediate Chemicals (NCIC) of Egypt has likewise turned to Comspain for the supply of a complete granulation unit for the production of 150,000 t/a DAP and NPK fertilizers, while Jordan Phosphate Mines Co. (JPMC) has commissioned Comspain to provide a coating facility at its 320,000 t/a DAP plant.

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Speciality fertilizers

Summary

* GrowHow UK's strong base * Borax for extra fertility

Abstract

GrowHow UK Limited was formed on 1 October 2007 as a 50:50 joint venture between Terra Industries and Yara International ASA (as successor to Kemira GrowHow Oyj) to create the United Kingdom’s premier fertilizer manufacturer and a major supplier to the process chemicals industry. At the time, the merger of the UK fertilizer operations of the two constituent partners was hailed as an opportunity that would allow for the effective integration of two long-established fertilizer businesses and thus enhance their competitiveness in an increasingly global market. The move would also secure a sustainable future for the two companies’ customers and employees. Two years on, these goals appear to have been met.

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On or off? Can the Mexican fertilizer industry now plan its long-term survival?

Summary

By 2006, the last indigenous fertilizer capacity in Mexico had been idled, leaving the country 100% dependent on imports. However, high import prices led some production capacity to be reactivated during the following years and by 2008, domestic production was supplying around 44% of the total market. The past year has been a difficult one as demand has weakened. Can the surviving Mexican fertilizer producers find a way out of their present difficulties and plan for the longer term?

Abstract

The story of the Mexican fertilizer sector echoes that of the country’s overall economy. It is a tale of potential that has not always been fulfilled, marked by swings in policy and management, and extremes of boom and bust. For much of Mexico’s history, political factors and the weakness of the country’s institutions prevented sustained economic growth, but during the past decade, Mexico’s macroeconomic fundamentals have been placed on a more solid footing, helped by progressive decentralisation since the 1980s.

Fertilizer consumption has been relatively static during the past two decades however, at around 4.3-4.5 million t/a product. Whereas in 1997, Mexico was a net exporter of fertilizers, exporting 1.3 million tonnes and importing 500,000 tonnes, production contracted considerably after 2000. Despite having indigenous supplies of natural gas and phosphate rock, for much of the present decade Mexico produced no urea or downstream phosphate fertilizers. Several factors explain this paradox, as outlined below.

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The world-class Amazon Potash Basin awaits development

Summary

Huge potash potential attracts the interest of the mining majors and juniors.

Abstract

Brazil is the world’s fastest growing potash market, and it is the predominant market in Latin America, accounting for some 80% of the potash used in the region. Brazil’s consumption of 6 million tonnes KCl in 2007 is forecast to rise to 9 million tonnes KCl by 2012. At present, around 80% of the country’s potash requirements are met by imports. As part of Brazil’s long-term economic plans, the government wishes to reduce this reliance. At present, indigenous production of potash centres on the Sergipe area, via Vale’s mine at Taquari-Vassouras in Sergipe state. Capacity at this operation totals around 450-500,000 t/a K2O. Brazil ranks in eighth position in terms of reserves and ninth in terms of world production.

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Applications in phosphate and potash operations

Summary

A key element in beneficiating and upgrading the final product.

Abstract

In most forms of mining to extract and process minerals, the next step after extraction is the mechanical grinding of the ore to provide an optimum particle size for beneficiation and further processing. This process will typically centre on a ball mill. This is a cylindrical device that grinds the rock ore into a fine powder. Ball mills rotate around a horizontal axis, partially filled with the material to be ground plus the grinding medium. (Fig. 1) Typical media include ceramic balls, flint pebbles and steel balls. Most grinding mills use forged steel balls, while some use high chrome grinding balls. An internal cascading effect reduces the material to a fine powder. In phosphate and potash mines, the ball mill can operate continuously, fed at one end and discharged at the other end. Large- to medium-sized ball mills are mechanically rotated on their axis but small ones normally consist of a cylindrical capped container that sits in two drive shafts. High-quality ball mills can grind particle mixture to as small as 5 mm, greatly increasing surface area and reaction rates.

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Mantaro project boosts Peru's credentials

Summary

Stonegate Agricom reports good progress on a second phosphate project in Peru.

Abstract

While mining giant Vale is fast-tracking the Bayóvar phosphate rock project in the Sechura Desert region of northern Peru, a second project is under way that could reinforce Peru’s role in the global phosphate market place. The Canadian company, Stonegate Agricom Ltd. has announced that it has commenced an exploration programme on the two concessions it holds on the Mantaro phosphate deposit, with a view to establishing a phosphate mining operation. Initial results from the trenching and drilling programme have confirmed the inferred mineral resource noted in the NI 43-101 technical report filed by Hains Technology Associated in August 2008.

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