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Publication > Issue > Articles

Yara Prize 2013: A tale of two laureates

Summary

The 2013 Yara Prize has been awarded to two highly-deserving laureates, both of whom are achieving impressive results at the ground level as Africa progresses towards improved food security.

Abstract

In 2005, Yara International celebrated the centenary of its foundation in Norway. For long a part of the Norsk Hydro group, Yara subsequently evolved into a supplier with one of the longest global reaches. Having become Europe’s principal fertilizer manufacturer by the 1990s, Yara has also made significant investments in production and distribution facilities in Canada, Brazil, Qatar, Libya, Malaysia, Australia and Africa. Yara has long recognised that it operates in a highly interconnected world. At the heart of the Yara corporate philosophy is an awareness that private businesses relate to the same global challenges as society at large – especially in the contexts of population growth, food security, the management of resources and care of the environment. These challenges can only be met through global responses, in which businesses should be fully involved. Keywords: Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Yara International; Food security; Green Revolution; Award; Development; Farming; Self-sufficiency

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An autumn chill for potash profitability

Summary

The reverberations continue from the Uralkali/Belaruskali fall-out.

Abstract

Commentators in the wider business media have described the events of the past three months as a “Potash War” between Russia and Belarus, after Uralkali and Belaruskali terminated their joint marketing agreement amidst much rancour. But just what kind of a war is it? The arrest and detention in Belarus of Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner prompted Russian protests at senior government levels and led to threats that Russia would cut off supplies of natural gas to its upstart neighbour, as well as other sanctions. Before he made his fateful trip to Minsk, Baumgertner himself stoked up fires that spread throughout the potash world when he indicated that Uralkali was no longer concerned with upholding world market prices for potash, but would instead target higher volumes. He hinted that he was blasé about any consequent price fall, and that he would not be unduly troubled if prices fell to as low as $300/t. Keywords: Potash; Russia; Belarus; Uralkali; Belaruskali; PotashCorp; Oligopoly; Trade; Margins; Projects; Greenfield projects

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Indo-China makes its mark

Summary

We assess the development of fertilizer markets and capacity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Abstract

Vietnam has been enjoying a rapid growth in its GDP, averaging 5%/year and showing the potential to become one of the fastest-growing of the emerging economies by 2025, with a potential annual growth rate of 10% in real dollar terms. In the aftermath of the country’s reunification in 1975, Vietnam was a highly centralised planned economy, but while some of the levers of centralisation remain, the economy is today more market-oriented. State-owned enterprises account for around 40% of GDP of an estimated $320.5 billion in 2012. Vietnam has become a leading agricultural exporter and an attractive destination for foreign direct investment, especially since the country joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2007. Agriculture in Vietnam accounts for around 22% of GDP and around 55-60% of employment. The sector contributes around 30% of total exports, with Vietnam enjoying a leading world role in the export of rice, coffee, cotton, rubber, sugarcane and tea. Primary export destinations are the United States (18% of total exports), China (11%) and Japan (11%). Keywords: Vietnam; Laos; Cambodia; Phosphates; Potash; DAP; NPKs; Mines; Reserves; Resources; Rice; Projects; GDP; Natural gas; China; PetroVietnam; Vinachem

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Seeking a steady path

Summary

While the country faces political and civil turbulence, Pakistan has been a recent proving ground for the most advanced fertilizer production technology, including one of the world's largest urea plants and a state-of-the-art DAP facility. We profile the leading players and the markets they serve.

Abstract

Agriculture remains the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy, employing approximately one-half of its labour force and generating one-quarter of its GNP. Major crops, including wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane, account for 82% of the value added in the crops. However, yields are still considered to be very low. As with neighbouring India, the imbalanced application of N, P and K fertilizers is one of the factors behind these low yields. (Fertilizers in Pakistan: Demand, Production and Imports, Kamran Kamal, Engro EXIMP. Paper presented at IFA Production & International Trade Conference [October 2011].) In contrast with India, the fertilizer industry in Pakistan is deregulated, with no permanent subsidy regime: with the exception of urea, market prices are linked to international prices. Pakistan has an indigenous nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer manufacturing industry, drawing on domestic sources of natural gas. Proven gas reserves are estimated at around 910 bcm, and total consumption has averaged around 38 bcm. However, Pakistan’s fertilizer industry has suffered from occasional curtailments in the supply of gas, for example between May-December 2010, which seriously disrupted production and led to a chronic shortage of urea. (Nitrogen in South Asia, Nitrogen+Syngas, No. 310 [March-April 2011].) Keywords: Pakistan; Ammonia; Urea; DAP; Potash; Natural gas; Rice; Wheat; Engro; Fauji

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Debottlenecking ammonia and urea plants

Summary

How to optimise plant performance, as illustrated by some recent case studies.

Abstract

There have been continuing developments to improve ammonia and urea production, embracing incremental increases in capacities at existing plants, more efficient equipment, and enhanced energy consumption and emissions control. The leading suppliers of ammonia and urea technology highlighted their latest advances at Nitrogen+Syngas 2013, as described here. Several recent revamps have focused on the Former Soviet Union (FSU), where many large-scale plants that were constructed in the 1970s are now being modernised to meet today’s standards in terms of energy consumption and emissions control. Many of the ammonia plants had been designed for a capacity of 1,360 t/d, which at the time was state-of-the-art, employing turbo compressor units. By modernising the ammonia production lines and dynamic equipment (turbines and compressors), it proved possible to raise plant capacity to between 1,700-2,000 t/d, at the same time achieving lower production costs and energy consumption. (Modernisation of Dynamic Equipment for Ammonia Production Increase in the CIS Countries, Andrey Semakov, Vasily Evdokimov et al, Entechmach LLC and A. Malec, R.Werner, Alstom Power. Paper presented at Nitrogen+Syngas 2013.) Keywords: Ammonia; Urea; Revamp; Capacity; Equipment; Compressors; Reformer; Turbines; Refractory; Synthesis gas; Catalysts; Feed pumps; CO2; Condenser; Scrubbers; Carbamate; Prilling; Granulation; Inerts; Stamicarbon; Topsøe; Uhde; NIIK

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Effective water management in acid plants

Summary

The majority of new sulphuric acid plants being commissioned are sulphur-burning units and many of these are located where water is a scarce resource or else where its management is an environmentally-sensitive issue. We review the efforts of the leading acid technology providers to reduce overall water consumption and facilitate its reuse where possible.

Abstract

Acid plants have major requirements for water. There is the chemical need to have one mole of water present for each mole of SO2 that is converted to acid, and there is also the consumption of water to dilute the acid to common strengths: the most common acid strength is 98.5% H2SO4. (Acid Plants in Dry World, Daniel Freeman & Eli Arbiv, SNC-Lavalin, Fenco Division. Paper presented at AIChE Clearwater Meeting [June 2012].) Water management is becoming an increasingly critical issue, especially as a growing global population, intensified agriculture and other industrial activities all make more intense demands on a scarce resource. An important source of the water introduced into a sulphuric acid plant is the clean water vapour present in the combustion air. The dehydration of combustion air in the dry tower adds this water to the acid circuit. While this is an extremely valuable source of water, the water absorbed in the dehydration process is uncontrolled and produces heat at an insufficiently high value to have secondary uses. Table 1 shows the typical quality of dilution water. Keywords: Sulphuric acid; Tower; Process water; Cooling water; Boiler feed water; BFW; Cooling tower; Cooler; Stainless steel; Silica; Concentrate; Blow-down; Combustion; Steam; Carry-over; Scale; Pumping; Pressure drop; Recycle

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Restoring mining land after use

Summary

Mining companies are required to minimise and mitigate the environmental effects of their operations through programmes of rehabilitation. We assess the work that is required and report on the notable achievements of leading phosphate and potash fertilizer companies in restoring previously mined lands.

Abstract

Mine reclamation is defined as the process of restoring land that has been mined to a natural or economically usable purpose. Although the process of reclamation begins once mining is completed, the preparation and planning of mine reclamation activities begin before the mine is permitted or started. Modern mine reclamation minimises and mitigates the environmental effects of mining. As part of the mine’s life cycle, when mining ends, operators must restore the land to its approximate original contour (AOC) or leave the land graded and suitable for post-mining land use that has been approved as part of the original mining permit application. Rehabilitation management is a continuing process, often resulting in mines being backfilled. A typical post-mining rehabilitation may cover the following procedures: Keywords: Reclamation; Rehabilitation; Environment; Restoration; Life-cycle; Mine; Wetlands; Stopes; Habitat; Wildlife; Legislation; Florida; Morocco; Alsace; FIPR; Mosaic; OCP; CF Industries; Khourigba; Tailings; Groundwater; Clays; Liner; Backfill; Waste

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Phosphate use in India

Summary

The pattern of the demand for phosphate fertilizers in India has been erratic in recent years. In 2011, India registered the largest increase in phosphate fertilizer use worldwide. This increase in uptake remained well behind agronomic recommendations, however, and the following year saw consumption regress. We assess the factors behind the volatile pattern of phosphate consumption and the actions that could be taken to put the fulfilment of potential demand back on track.

Abstract

The 2012/13 fertilizer year was a disappointing one for India’s indigenous fertilizer producers as well as the global exporters who help to fulfil the country’s vast demand for nutrients. At the IFA Annual Conference in Chicago (May 2013), Satish Chander, director general of the Fertiliser Association of India (FAI), reported that fertilizer consumption was 25.44 million tonnes nutrient, representing a fall of 8.5% over the previous year. While the consumption of nitrogen fertilizers at 16.91 million tonnes N marked a marginal decline of 2.2% compared with 2011/12, the fall in phosphate fertilizer consumption of 6.59 million tonnes P2O5 was more pronounced at 16.7%. Most dramatic was the fall in potash fertilizer consumption, which at 1.94 million tonnes K2O was 24.9% down year-on-year. The increase in the retail prices of phosphate and potash fertilizers caused by firm international market prices and the depreciation in the value of the Indian rupee against the fixed rate of subsidy (which has continued into 2013/14) resulted in a high level of demand destruction for both P and K fertilizers. There were clear signs of a swing towards higher demand for urea in the wake of its well-subsidised price and cheapness relative to other fertilizers used in India. The N:P:K use ratio widened to 1: 0.39: 0.11 during 2012/13, compared with 1: 0.46: 0.15 in 2011/12 and 1: 0.39: 0.21 in 2010/11. The worsening nutrient balance has heightened concerns that Indian crop yields and self-sufficiency in food production are regressing. Keywords: Subsidy; Minimum retail price; DAP; SSP; NPKs; Rabi; Monsoon ; Capacity; Joint venture

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Choosing the right equipment for phosphate plants

Summary

Finding the optimal solutions in the provision of grinders, granulators, dryers, conveyors, pumps and all the other equipment that are essential for a plant's efficient operations.

Abstract

The process of transforming phosphate rock ore into high-value finished fertilizers typically begins with the beneficiation of the phosphate rock, whereby the phosphate rock is separated from impurities and non-phosphate materials. This process in turn begins with crushing, which in most operations is a major and integral stage of the beneficiation operation. Crushers and grinding mills achieve the necessary reduction of dimensions before the beneficiation process can begin. This reduction may involve several stages prior to a secondary grinding process. Typical equipment used in the primary reduction stage includes jaw crushers, impact crushers and gyratory crushers. Cone crushers and impact crushers are commonly used for secondary crushing, which ordinarily decrease materials to about 1-4 inches. Tertiary crushing is normally carried out applying cone crushers or VSI crushers. The steps used in the beneficiation process depend on the source and type of rock. In Central Florida, the typical beneficiation unit begins with wet screening to separate pebble rock that is larger than 1.43 mm (0.056 inches) or 14 mesh and smaller than 6.35 mm (0.25 inches) form the balance of the rock. (Phosphate Rock Processing, US Environmental Protection Authority [1995].) The material that is larger than 0.85 mm (0.033 in) or 20 mesh and smaller than 14 mesh is separated using hydrocyclones and finer mesh screens and is added to the pebble product. The fraction smaller than 20 mesh is treated by 2-stage flotation. Keywords: Grinding; Granulation; Pumping; Slurry; Crushing; Beneficiation; Screening; Conveying; Calcination; Mill; Phosphate rock; Phosphoric acid; Pumping; Cooling; Filtration; Phosphogypsum; Wet process acid; Agitators; Scrubbers; Agglomeration; Coating; Drying; Venturi; Cyclones

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