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Bienvenue à Montreal

Summary

The lively Québecois city of Montreal in Canada will be the host city for The Fertilizer Institute's 2013 World Fertilizer Conference. The main location is Le Centre Sheraton Montreal, where delegates will gather between 22-24 September.

Abstract

For the first time, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) will host its World Fertilizer Conference in Montreal, Canada, taking place between 22-24 September. Each year the conference brings together hundreds of delegates representing the global fertilizer industry who are interested in conducting business and discussing the trends in the international industry and the issues that impact it. For each of the past three years, participation in the event has broken fresh records. TFI hopes that its efforts to create an outstanding conference atmosphere will draw another record group of international fertilizer industry participants to Montreal for an exceptional meeting opportunity. The conference will launch with an opening reception on Sunday, 22 September. Each year, TFI invites special guest speakers to provide keynote addresses. TFI is very keen to spread the word about the high-calibre speakers it has attracted to this year’s conference. On Monday, 23 September, John Stanmeyer, will present his photographs which capture the story of a persistent problem – world hunger. John enjoys a special perspective on this issue, regularly undertaking assignments for National Geographic Magazine and he was on contract with Time Magazine for more than ten years. Keywords: The Fertilizer Institute, TFI, conference

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What a difference a year makes

Summary

The latest US Department of Agriculture estimates for planting intentions and an assessment of North American fertilizer demand are featured here.

Abstract

At this time of the year, the attention of fertilizer industry executives and analysts focuses on how farmers assess their planting attentions for the year ahead. What they decide has a direct impact of fertilizer consumption during the coming months. Various parameters influence farmers’ buying intentions, including yields, recent weather conditions and prevailing market prices. Twelve months ago, the talk was about the extreme drought that led to a marked deterioration in crop yields and quality. This year, the prognosis is altogether more positive, with the weather having played a generally more benign role: the main area concern is that the forecast good harvests this year may weigh on prices. The latest WASDE (World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates) report was published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on 13 August and pointed to record crop sizes in most sectors. In the wheat sector, global supplies for 2013/14 are forecast to be a record 705.4 million tonnes, reflecting increased production among several of the largest exporters, including the United States, Canada, the EU, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Favourable soil moisture and a lack of heat stress compared with last year account for these larger forecast harvests. Keywords: Plantings, Harvest, Corn, Wheat, Maize, Soybeans, Rice

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A new hand on the PhosAgro tiller

Summary

Possible changes are in the air as the Russian fertilizer producer PhosAgro appointed a successor to Maxim Volkov as CEO. Special correspondent Eugene Gerden assesses the outlook.

Abstract

The recent resignation of Maxim Volkov as CEO of PhosAgro is expected to herald a period of change for Russia’s leading producer of phosphate fertilizers. Volkov had headed PhosAgro for the past four years, having joined the company in 2001. On 31 July, the appointment of Andrei Guriev, Jr. as CEO as successor to Maxim Volkov was officially confirmed. Some analysts suggest that the appointment of Andrei Guriev, Jr. may result in a more active influence by the Guriev family on the company’s key decisions and in particular, that of Andei Guriev Sr. The latter recently resigned down from the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, in the wake of a law banning officials from foreign accounts. His resignation leaves him free to focus on the more active management of PhosAgro, as he is already a member of the board. Keywords: Russia, Guriev, Volkov

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Much ado?

Summary

An unexpected bout of turbulence hit potash markets in late July, when Uralkali announced that it will pull out of its export partnership with Belaruskali. The news prompted widespread speculation that potash prices would tumble in world markets and wiped millions of dollars off the value of potash-related stocks. Was the market anxiety justified?

Abstract

The announcement that Uralkali will withdraw from its export partnership with Belaruskali prompted massive turbulence in global markets as the news was widely interpreted as the harbinger of a sharp fall in potash prices. For the past seven-and-a-half years, Uralkali has exported its product via Belarus Potash Company (BPC), in partnership with Belaruskali. Ownership of BPC was shared between Uralkali (50%), Belaruskali (45%) and Belarusian Railways (5%). From now on, Uralkali is channelling all of its exports via the Swiss-based Uralkali Trading subsidiary. Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner did much to fuel the speculation about the impact on prices of the dissolution of the export partnership. Speaking to journalists in Moscow, he said that potash prices may now decline to below $300/t in the second half of 2013 - $50/t below first-half prices - as Uralkali steps up its production and maximises sales. This suggested that Uralkali would no longer subscribe to the potash industry’s longstanding practice of “orderly marketing”, whereby producers would tailor production strictly in order to prevent sharp falls in price. Keywords: Russia, Belarus, Potash, Canpotex, K+S Kali, Baumgertner

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Advances in cargo inspection technology

Summary

Stringent inspections are the norm in the transport and trade of fertilizers and associated raw materials. We outline the work being undertaken by the leading specialised inspection companies and their investments in state-of-the-art technology.

Abstract

The purpose of inspection is to prevent all product when shipped in bulk from becoming soiled or wet in the transhipping process and to ensure that shipments, whether in bulk or bags, meet contract stipulations regarding weight and quality. In this way, the cargo inspector helps to reduce commercial and contractual risks, improve product quality, optimise operational efficiency and maximise profitability. Several companies specialise in the examination of fertilizer and associated raw material cargoes, and the service that they provide includes the inspection of hatches and hold compartments, loading and discharging equipment in order to ascertain their state of cleanliness and dryness. Throughout loading, temperature controls are performed and representative samples are taken. Particular attention is paid to the flowability of the product and the avoidance of agglomeration or caking. Loading and unloading operations may be halted during periods of adverse weather. In the case of bagged fertilizers, bag quality and size, markings and the adequacy of the storage facilities are inspected and drop tests performed. The verification of weight is undertaken by draft survey, and samples are thoroughly analysed in dedicated laboratories. Keywords: Inspection, Gamma rays, Precision agriculture, GPS

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Brazil: How close to self-sufficiency?

Summary

Former President Lula adopted the Chinese economic model in seeking to accelerate the country's drive to self-sufficiency. The fertilizer industry was expected to play a key role in this process, spearheaded by Petrobras and the mining giant, Vale. What progress has been made to date in developing new fertilizer capacity, and how soon is Brazil likely to achieve its strategic goals?

Abstract

Brazil is now the sixth largest economy in the world by GDP, having enjoyed very rapid growth during the past decade at an average growth rate of 5%/year. With a population of more than 190 million and abundant natural resources, Brazil has a world-ranking agricultural sector, with export-oriented cereals, soybean, citrus and sugar cane sectors. Brazil accounts for 25% of global exports of raw cane and refined sugar and is the global leader in soybean exports, as well as being responsible for 80% of the planet’s orange juice. The beef and chicken sectors have also enjoyed rapid growth. Brazil’s mining sector is another keystone in the economy, accounting for 4% of GDP and almost a quarter of exports, principally of iron ore and gold. Vale S.A. has a diversified portfolio throughout the world and ranks second globally. It has lately pursued a policy of diversification away from non-ferrous metals, which has led it to invest in potash and phosphates operations. Vale produces potash at the Taquari-Vassouras mine in Sergipe state. All production is for domestic demand, accounting for around 13% of Brazilian potash consumption. Keywords: Brazil, Phosphates, Potash, Nitrogen, Urea, Logistics, Sergipe, Goias, Petrobras, Vale, Sugarcane, ANDA

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A biofuel reckoning

Summary

Is the biofuel bubble about to burst? What is the potential impact on the global fertilizer sector?

Abstract

Biofuel production has been a key driver in agricultural production since 2003. World output expanded very rapidly until 2008 but growth began to decelerate from 2009, and global production is estimated to have contracted in 2011 and 2012. (Medium-Term Outlook for World Agriculture and Fertilizer Demand 2012/13-2017/18, Patrick Heffer, IFA [May 2013].) World biofuel production is dominated by the United States, Brazil and EU markets, which account for more than three-quarters of the world output. A declining trend in ethanol and biodiesel production has been observed in all the major markets. Keywords: Biofuels, Ethanol, Sugarcane, Corn, Brazil, Cellulose, Switchgrass

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China holds the wild card

Summary

We examine the changing dynamics in the supply and global trade in this leading fertilizer commodity.

Abstract

Out of an estimated global production in 2012 of around 162 million tonnes product of urea, around 43.8 million tonnes were traded. Exports contributed about 25% of global sales, a rise of 10% over the previous year. As shown in Figs. 1 and 2, the Middle East was the predominant exporting region, accounting for 35% of total shipments, followed by the Former Soviet Union (FSU), with an aggregate 20%. The United States and India together accounted for approximately one-third of global urea imports. These two countries are assessed as relatively mature markets: countries in Asia, Latin America and Europe are expected to provide most of the future growth in urea import demand. (Nitrogen – Market Overview, PotashCorp [June 2013].) China has in recent years been the world’s largest urea exporter, although its annual volumes have fluctuated in line with changes in government export policies. Lately, China’s urea exports have faced a significant tariff except during export windows, generally of four months’ duration, starting in July, during which period the reduced tariff is calculated by a formula tied to the export price of urea. The prospect of over-capacity in China and the changing economics of urea production herald possible changes in China’s impact in urea markets over the longer term. Keywords: Urea, Trade, Projects, Capacity, MENA, FSU, Shale gas, China, India

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Under the spotlight

Summary

Standing room only once again at the 37th Annual Clearwater Convention, as participants assessed topical issues on sulphuric acid and phosphate technology.

Abstract

The usual sulphuric acid and technology session was chaired with customary aplomb by Rick Davies and Jim Dougherty, addressing the theme of Acid Towers and their Replacement. C. Guy Cooper of NORAM Engineering & Constructors outlined The Design of Brick-Lined Towers in Sulphuric Acid Service. The respective merits of brick-lined and alloy towers were assessed: NORAM Engineering supplies both. The company can also supply SX alloy towers for retro-fitting. Guy Cooper compared the two tower types, noting that while they are typically of similar diameter and height, brick towers are heavier and alloy towers are relatively light. Both types offer good degrees of longevity, with alloy towers having a working life of 25 years and more, and brick towers 30 years and more. An average installation time of 1-3 weeks for an alloy tower compares with 1-10 weeks for a brick tower. Installation costs for each type varies case-by-case. Each technology offers distinct benefits, but careful consideration of the options is advisable. Keywords: AIChE, Clearwater, Central Florida, Phosphates, Sulphuric acid, Phosphogypsum, Acid towers, Mongolia, Phosphate rock, Beneficiation, Screening, SGN, Flash cooler, Gypsum stacks, Pumps, Filtration, Corrosion

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Addressing corrosion in acid plants

Summary

An examination of the different types of corrosion protection systems that are available for countering the chemical, thermal and mechanical attacks that can occur in phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid plants.

Abstract

Corrosion is the largest single cause of process plant and equipment breakdown. For most applications, it is possible to select materials of construction that are fully resistant to attack by acids and other process fluids, but the cost of such an approach can be prohibitive. In practice, it is usual to select materials that corrode slowly at a known rate and to make an allowance for this in specifying the material thickness. However, a significant proportion of corrosion failures occur due to some form of localised corrosion, which results in failure in a much shorter time than would be expected from uniform wastage. In addition, it is important to take into account that external atmospheric corrosion leads to many instances of loss of containment and tends to be a greater problem than internal corrosion. All these aspects of corrosive behaviour need to be addressed both at the plant design time and during the life of the plant. (Corrosion/selection of materials, Health & Safety Executive, UK Government.) Keywords: Corrosion, Sulphuric acid, Phosphoric acid, Alloys, Austenitic steel, Stainless steel, Pitting, Cracking, FRP

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MR and LIBS technology boost efficiencies

Summary

Embracing advanced technologies in magnetic resonance (MR) and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), Progression, Inc. is paving the way towards improved analysis of phosphate and potash ores, enabling producers to reap substantial gains in efficiency.

Abstract

With its increased awareness of its stewardship of a valuable resource, the phosphate industry worldwide is devoting ever greater efforts to enhance the efficiency of its operations and to minimise its environmental footprint. As a result, phosphate mines and processing plants are embracing more advanced technologies to improve yields and reduce waste. One key measure of efficiency is the level of P2O5 in tailings: the higher the recovery of P2O5 during the beneficiation process, the greater the efficiency of operations and the higher the potential economic return. For example, it has been estimated that a 2% reduction in the measured P2O5 in plant tailings can result in savings of at least $500,000/year in a typical beneficiation plant. Keywords: Magnetic resonance, Spectroscopy, Laser, Radioactive

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Outlook for production

Summary

Phosphate rock supply is expected to increase by 15 million tonnes or 6% between 2012 and 2017. We assess the principal sources of this forecast new supply and highlight other projects for the longer term.

Abstract

In its assessment of the medium-term outlook for phosphate rock supply (2013-17), IFA forecasts that world phosphate rock capacity will increase by 6%, from 245 million t/a in 2012 to 260 million t/a by 2017. This extra supply will be met by a combination of capacity enhancements at existing mines and new projects that will be commissioned during the forecast period. Table 1 shows the forecast for world phosphate rock capacity by region. Rock potential supply is projected to increase in most regions, notably in Africa, China, and the Middle East/Arab Gulf countries. In Africa, phosphate rock is mined in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Togo and South Africa. In Morocco, OCP is pursuing its expansion and modernisation programmes, enhanced by the imminent completion of a 240-km slurry pipeline that will link the mines at Khourigba with the downstream plants at Jorf Lasfar. Between 2013 and 2017, OCP is scheduled to bring four new open-pit mines in Khourigba into production, providing 18.5 million t/a of new capacity and raising OCP’s aggregate rock capacity to between 30-35 million t/a. OCP will provide several beneficiation plants to process lower-grade ores, as well as expanding P2O5 recovery and increasing the recycling of process water. Keywords: Phosphate rock, Mining, Projects, Beneficiation, Concentrate, Peru, Brazil, China

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Enhancing the value of the by-products

Summary

Commercialising the fluosilicic acid, uranium and rare earths associated with the production of phosphoric acid.

Abstract

Phosphoric acid is rich in minerals that are potentially attractive for their by-product value. The most common by-product that is currently being recovered from phosphoric acid is fluosilicic acid. (By-Products from Phosphoric Acid, John Wing. Paper presented at AIChE Clearwater Conference [June 2012].) Most phosphate rock contains around 4% fluoride, and most of this evolves from phosphoric acid evaporators. Many plants scrub evaporator vapours to recover substantial amounts of fluosilicic acid (FSA). Smaller amounts of FSA can be recovered from phosphoric acid reactor fumes or flash cooler vapours. Fluorine evolves from phosphoric acid as silicon fluoride (SiF4) and as hydrogen fluoride (HF). The ratio of HF to SiF4 increases as the phosphoric acid concentration increases, reaching a point where fluosilicic acid (H2SiF6) is formed. The overall reaction is: 2HF + SiF4 → 2H2SiF6 Keywords: Fluosilicic acid, Uranium, Rare earth elements, Phosphoric acid, Phosphate rock, Scrubbers, FSA, Silicon, Fluoride, DEPA/TOPO, Phosphogypsum, Polyphosphates

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