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Welcome to Sydney

Summary

The 2014 IFA Annual Conference, the primary international meeting in the fertilizer industry calendar, is the 82nd such event and takes place in the effervescent city of Sydney, Australia. Charlotte Hebebrand, IFA Director General, extends a warm welcome and outlines the highlights of this year's agenda of presentations.

Abstract

The 2014 IFA Annual Conference is the 82nd such meeting and is expected to attract around 1,400 participants, representing over 540 member companies from 75 countries. The meeting is the primary platform for the global fertilizer industry and is on the agenda of its chief executives and senior management representatives. The opening session will focus on Smart Growth: Promoting Effective and Efficient Fertilizer Use. This will feature a panel discussion with international experts on nutrient use efficiency. These are priority topics for all of us at IFA, and they are also featuring increasingly in national and international policy forums. The panel members will include Michael Harris, Chief Economist, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Sciences (ABARES); Prof. Mark Sutton of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station; Ann Tutweiler, Director General, Biodiversity International; Howard Minigh, President, CropLife International and Matt Linnegar, CEO, Australian Farmers’ Federation. Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UN Environmental Program, will make a video address, outlining The Role of Nutrient Management as a Global Challenge for the Agricultural Sector. The keynote address will be given by Esin Mete, IFA President. Keywords: Conference; Sydney; Australia; Agriculture; Forecasts; Demand; Supply; Crop nutrition; Award; Yields

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Hitting above its weight

Summary

At present playing a relatively minor role in global markets, the Australian fertilizer industry is poised to draw on the nation's own rich resource base, as reflected by plans for investment in new facilities and greenfield projects.

Abstract

Australia is a small player in the global fertilizer market, accounting for just 1% of global nitrogen fertilizer consumption of 100 million t/a N, around 500,000 t/a out of 17 million t/a phosphate fertilizers consumed and just 200,000 t/a of world consumption of 31 million t/a of potash. At present, Australian consumption on a total nutrient NPK basis amounts to barely more than 1%. (Source: Fertilizers Australia) World trade in fertilizer products is around 200 million t/a, but Australia’s imports total below 400,000 t/a, mainly comprising phosphate rock, MAP, DAP and potash, while exports amount to just around 50,000 t/a. The primary overseas suppliers to the Australian market are Morocco (phosphate rock, phosphoric acid, DAP/MAP), Israel (SSP and potash), United States (DAP), China (urea, DAP), the Arab Gulf region (urea), Germany and Jordan (both potash). Keywords: Australia; Nitrogen; Phosphates; Potash; Phosphate rock; NPK; DAP; MAP; Ammonium nitrate; Superphosphate; Guano; Christmas Island; Nauru; Queensland; Western Australia; Northern Territory; Pilbara; Mining; Projects; Greenfield; Deposit; Resources; Explosives; Phosphorite; Fluorapatite; Carbonatite; Glauconite; Alunite; Schoenite; El Niño

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Urea exports have a global impact

Summary

This assessment of the Chinese urea industry's global impact by Lynn Wang, China Research Manager, Integer Beijing, is drawn from Integer Research's Focus Report, providing an essential and timely analysis of the fast-evolving Chinese urea market.

Abstract

The Chinese urea industry is the largest and most pivotal market in the global nitrogen sector and arguably it is the least well understood. In recent years, Chinese export tariffs have insulated international urea markets and prices from developments in the Chinese market, but this is now changing, prompting much speculation among industry analysts. Chinese urea export volumes are forecast to be sensitive to prevailing international market conditions and government policies. While there remains significant uncertainty over the future course of government export policies from China, Integer Research has derived how much capacity will be profitable at different international price levels, should there be no government intervention. The “ideal” urea export volume for the Chinese government is around 10% of total national capacity, but the government does not exclude the possibility of reintroducing prohibitive export tariffs to influence export volumes. The Chinese government’s primary aim is to balance domestic urea supply and demand, ensuring that urea plants in the country prosper during off-seasons and that domestic urea prices remain stable. According to Integer’s estimates, there will be between 12-17 million tonnes of urea capacity available for export, at a forecast export price of $350/t in 2017 and $400/t in 2020, assuming no export tariffs. Exports are likely to be eliminated if export prices fall near to or below $300/t. Keywords: China; Urea; Exports; Tax window; Tariffs; Ammonia; Natural gas; Coal; Bituminous; Anthracite; Capacity; NOx

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Bridging the credit gap

Summary

Difficulties in securing credit for fertilizer purchases remains a serious hindrance in the greater advance of fertilizer use throughout Africa. Scipion Capital is one of several organisations that seek to address this issue. Nicolas Clavel, chief investment officer, and George Sanders, investment analyst, outline an innovative scheme that promotes improved access to commodities trade finance.

Abstract

After a long period of attracting negative headlines, Africa is finally beginning to be viewed as a business opportunity. While recent headlines have predominantly focused on Africa’s mineral wealth underneath the ground, few have recognised the growth in agricultural capacity and potential. Africa has 25% of the world’s arable land yet at present produces only 10% of the world’s agricultural output. The countries leading this surge include Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Mozambique, Kenya and Zambia. The growth has been across the board, from innovative agricultural co-operatives spreading education and fertilizers, through to commercial agriculture and value-added processing activities. These developments are now servicing not just a burgeoning clientele overseas but also a growing proto-consumer class within the continent itself, further boosted by healthy demographics. Yet despite this impressive growth, serious issues are hampering this sustained “miracle” growth story. As a continent still predominantly reliant on the primary sector, African business has had to bear the brunt of the burden of soaring prices under the commodities super-cycle, as well as a more than disproportionate credit line reduction. The latter originates mostly from their primary financier, Europe, being submerged in a crisis of its own. This has resulted in many African and indeed other foreign businesses that had perfectly healthy trading businesses having to curtail operations due to the financial crisis. Under the new Basel III rules, banks will have to possess even higher capital reserves, which will further limit their ability to provide trade finance. Keywords: Africa; Capital; Credit; Finance; Commodities; Trade; Senegal; Ghana; Sierra Leone; Gambia; Nigeria; Mozambique; Kenya; Zambia; Malawi; Sub-Saharan; Agribusiness; Infrastructure; GDP; IFC

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Do we face a capacity crunch?

Summary

Does the nitrogen market risk oversupply as new projects in the ammonia and urea sectors come on stream?

Abstract

IFA indicates that around 220 fertilizer projects are planned in all nutrient sectors between 2013 and 2017, involving a total capital cost in excess of $150 billion. These projects will add around 19% to global nitrogen capacity, with close to 75 new ammonia projects under construction. China will account for almost one-third of the new ammonia plants, while 55 new urea plants are projected, including 20 in China. Urea capacity is forecast to rise from 182 million t/a in 2013 to 207 million t/a by 2017, but will demand keep pace with this rise in capacity? IFA’s forecasts suggest not: while a 4.5% average annual growth in urea capacity is foreseen, demand is not expected to grow any faster than 3.5%/year. We may therefore be facing the prospect of a capacity overhang. How big is this overhang likely to be? IFA foresees a potential ammonia surplus of between 6-7% of projected supply, rising further post-2015 – equivalent to 13 million tonnes in 2016 and over 15 million tonnes in 2017. The potential 2017 urea surplus is 3% of projected supply, equivalent to 7 million tonnes. An increasing awareness of this potential product surplus has influenced market sentiment, and this awareness has spread to capital markets: fertilizer companies with stock exchange quotations have seen their shares steadily marked down, while external investors have shown mounting caution in committing to new fertilizer projects. Keywords: Capacity; Nitrogen; Ammonia; Urea; China; MENA; Surplus; India; Algeria; Natural gas; Feedstocks; Coal; Australia; Arab Gulf; Brazil; Vietnam; Russia; Ukraine; Projects; Indonesia; Malaysia; Asia; Bangladesh; Pakistan; United States; Shale gas; Egypt; Gabon; Expansion; CAPEX; Nigeria; Black Sea; EU; LNG

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New realities in the Caribbean

Summary

Depleting gas reserves, disruptions in supply and the shale gas boom in the United States pose threats to the longer-term future of the Caribbean nitrogen industry.

Abstract

Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago have built their economies on oil-derived products, not always with the happiest results. Venezuela contains some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world, remaining one of the top suppliers of oil to the United States and ranking in 2010 as the world’s eighth-largest net oil exporter. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) records that Venezuela has the second largest natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere, located mainly around and beneath Lake Maracaibo and the Gulf of Venezuela, totalling 195.10 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven reserves and producing 802.6 billion cubic feet (bcf) in 2012. However, gas production fell short of consumption in 2012, leading to imports of 66.29 bcf. The lack of private investment as successive governments pursued strongly nationalistic policies has hampered the continued development of Venezuela’s gas and associated downstream sectors. As the largest oil and natural gas producer in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago’s hydrocarbon sector moved from an oil-dominant to a mainly natural gas-based sector in the early 1990s, and gas today accounts for almost 90% of the country’s energy sector. As of January 2013, Trinidad and Tobago had 13.3 tcf of proven natural gas reserves, producing around 1.5 tcf of dry natural gas in 2012. In all, the energy sector accounts for 45% of the national GDP (2011), providing 58% of government revenues and is responsible for 83% of merchandise exports. Keywords: Caribbean; Natural gas; Venezuela; Trinidad; Reserves; Capacity; Projects; Ammonia; Urea; Exports; Trade; Investors; Investment; Shortfalls; Stability; Energy; Trade; United States; LNG

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Fertilizers boost fruit crop quality and yields

Summary

A look at the best macro- and micronutrient practices to ensure maximum yields and the very best quality of high-value fruit crops.

Abstract

Of total world fertilizer consumption of 176 million tonnes nutrients in 2012/13, an estimated 15% was applied on fruits and vegetables, with fruits consuming 5.8% of the total, equivalent to around 10 million tonnes. Among the countries where fertilizer use on fruit crops was particularly significant are China, India, the EU-27, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico, Iran, Egypt, Japan, Philippines, Chile and Morocco. (Table 1) IFA estimates that fruit crops account for 5.8% of all nitrogen fertilizer applications, 5.3% of all phosphates and 6.6% of all potash. High K-consuming crops like sugar cane have a strong impact on K fertilizer uses. Keywords: Fertilizers for fruit crops; Fruit; Nutrient; Nitrogen; Potassium; Sulphur; Potash; Sulphate; Nitrate; Fertigation; Micronutrients; Soil; Trees; Orchard; Cation; Phytonutrients; Soluble; pH; Quality; Fertilisation; Foliar; Broadcast; Citrus; Mango; Zinc; Ammonium; Injection; Nutrition

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The continuing quest for lower emissions

Summary

How the leading suppliers of sulphuric acid technology are addressing the issue of emissions.

Abstract

There are three basic types of sulphuric acid plants: l Sulphur-burning l Acid regeneration l Metallurgical. The sulphuric acid production process involves generating a sulphur dioxide-containing process gas stream. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are generally formed during the SO2 generation stage, especially in metallurgical furnaces used for roasting metal ores, the incineration of waste streams containing spent sulphuric acid and sulphates, and/or the combustion of H2S arising from industrial operations. (Boosting sulphuric acid production while lowering NOx emissions, Naresh J. Suchak and Frank R. Rich, Linde Gases Division. Paper presented at AIChE Clearwater Conference [June 2013].) Keywords: Emissions; Acid; Sulphuric acid; Regeneration; NOx; Waste; Metallurgical; H2S; Sulphur; Dioxide; Trioxide; Oxides; Niter; Catalyst; Conversion; Caesium; Vanadium; Absorption; Catalysis; Enrichment; Oxidisation; Environment; Flue gas; Ozone; Scrubber; Analyser; Solvent; Stripper; Steam; pH; Peroxide; Alkali; Regenerable; Aerosol

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Hopes renewed

Summary

After a disappointing 2013, when the demand and trade for phosphate fertilizers fell short of earlier hopes, the new year was marked by revived buying interest and firmer market prices. Against this background, delegates convened in Paris between 23-25 March for the CRU Events Phosphates Conference and Exhibition. Will this renewed hope be sustained into the medium and longer terms?

Abstract

James T. Ortiz, president and chief operating office of Indagro (USA) Inc. made the keynote presentation, assessing Challenges and Opportunities in the Phosphate Market. In an upbeat presentation, he forecast that global phosphate markets would be in greater balance in 2014. DAP supply was expected to rise by 6%, from 28.6 million tonnes in 2013 to 30.34 million tonnes this year, while global demand would rise by 13%, from 27.11 million tonnes in 2013 to 30.69 million tonnes. Significant increases in DAP supply are forecast in Morocco (up 38% to 2.38 million tonnes) and Russia (up 26% to 1.39 million tonnes), while China would also provide an 8% increase in supply, rising from 14.92 million tonnes to 16.13 million tonnes. A sharp increase in Indian buying interest is forecast compared with the sluggish offtake last year, with demand expected to jump by nearly 75%, from 3.20 million tonnes DAP to 5.93 million tonnes. Demand in China is also expected to rise, by 4% to 11.15 million tonnes. Indian DAP offtake remains subject to uncertainty, especially regarding subsidy schemes and the affordability of DAP in the wake of the weaker rupee: the rupee’s depreciation was a major factor in the country’s sharply reduced imports during 2013. (Fig. 1) Keywords: Phosphates; Outlook; Forecast; Challenges; Opportunities; Conference; DAP; MAP Phosphate rock; Phosphoric acid; SSP; Phosphogypsum; Morocco; Saudi Arabia; China; India; Brazil; Jordan; United States; Russia; Surplus; Offtake; Capacity; Projects; Subsidy; MENA; El Niño; NBS; Tax window; Feed; Fertigation; NUE; Nutrient; Struvite; Recycling; Phosphite; Biofertilisers; IFP; Asia; Rare earths; REE; Deposits; Sedimentary; Igneous; Mining; Peak phosphate; Hubbert curve; Reserves; Collaboration; Sustainability; Stewardship; Affordability; Risk; Beneficiation; Quality; Namibia; Filtration; Pond water; FSA; Fluorides; Silica; Reverse osmosis; Technology; Recovery; Flotation; Waste; IHP

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Potash trade outlook: after the battle

Summary

The settling of Indian potash contracts in early April has raised hopes that stability can now return to potash markets. But will this mean a return to status quo?

Abstract

After more than six months of turbulence, a state of calm has settled across international potash markets, which have been buoyed by India’s agreement of new contract terms for 2014/15. One consortium of buyers has agreed the delivery of 900,000 tonnes of granular KCl at the new contract price of $322/t cfr plus 180 days, while Indian Potash Limited (IPL) is talking to Belarus Potash Company (BPC) for 300,000 tonnes, having previously agreed deliveries as follows: l Uralkali, Russia – 800,000 tonnes l ICL, Israel – 525,000 tonnes l APC, Jordan – 375,000 tonnes l K+S – 200,000 tonnes l Canpotex – 150,000 tonnes. Keywords: Potash; India; Russia; Belarus; Canada; North America; China; Brazil; Vietnam; Malaysia; Canpotex; BPC; Inventories; Trade; Imports; KCl; Belaruskali; Uralkali

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Advances in potash mining techniques

Summary

A review of mining methods and the latest developments in equipment and technology.

Abstract

Despite recent setbacks in phosphate and potash markets and questions being raised about the economic viability of some of the greenfield projects, investment continues in new phosphate and potash mining capacity. EuroChem, for example, reports major advances in bringing its VolgaKaliy and Usolskiy potash projects to fruition in Russia, with the first production scheduled for 2017. Also in Russia, Uralkali has been developing new mines at Ust-Yayvinsky and Polovodovsky, while the expansion and modernisation of Uralkali’s existing production facilities will add 4.5 million t/a to Uralkali’s overall production capacity. Overall, IFA assesses that about 30 potash expansion projects are being carried out by established producers for completion between 2013 and 2017, together with four greenfield projects. Global potash capacity is forecast to increase from 45.4 million tonnes K2O in 2012 to 59.6 million t/a in 2017, representing a rise in capacity of 14 million t/a. Of this total, over 12 million t/a K2O will come from brownfield projects and expansions by established producers in China, Russia, Belarus, China and the United States, while the remainder will come from new greenfield operations in Canada, Russia, Brazil and Laos. Keywords: Potash; Mining; Longwall; Room-and-pillar; Greenfield; Capacity; Projects; Skip shaft; Ground freezing; Shaft; Equipment; Borer; Continuous miner; Tramming; Conveyor

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Economic incentives to improve P2O5 recovery

Summary

There are significant incentives for improving P2O5 recovery in the production of phosphoric acid and phosphate filters. Improving the P2O5 recovery from 92% to 93% in a 1 million t/a phosphoric acid and DAP plant can result on a 3.8% increase in gross profits, which amounts to $3.5 million/year. Donal Tunks, Process Engineer, Pegasus TSI explains how this can be achieved.

Abstract

With the recent down trend in the phosphates industry, the need to reduce production costs and raise product yield becomes paramount. Improved P2O5 recovery in phosphoric acid and downstream fertilizer production adds considerable value to a plant’s operations. Through an analysis of current market conditions, the expected increase in gross profits has been estimated on the basis of the P2O5 that can potentially be recovered. This review focuses on gross profits as a way of measuring the value of increased P2O5 recovery rather than operating profits. The latter include factors such as administrative costs: it is difficult to predict how these may change over time for a given organisation. By contrast, gross profits focus more on production expenditures, which make them more suitable in justifying process optimisation. A given company can supply its own data to the analysis provided to determine how improving P2O5 recovery will affect its net profits. Keywords: Phosphate; Recovery; Filters; Gross profits; Utilities; Sulphur; Phosphate rock; Phosphoric acid; DAP; Steam; Gypsum; Citrate; Losses; Soluble; Insoluble; Vacuum

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Filtration in the phosphate industry

Summary

We review the available technology to remove waste products in the phosphoric acid production process and recover materials for recycling.

Abstract

Optimising plant performance has always been a primary concern of phosphoric acid plant managers and operators. One of the most important processing steps that impacts plant performance is phosphoric acid filtration. In the filtration stage, the phosphoric acid is separated from the calcium sulphate dihydrate. Five tonnes of gypsum are generated from every tonne P2O5 of product acid produced. The filter medium must move in sequence through the various stages for continuous operation. The initial separation must be followed by at least two stages of washing, to ensure a satisfactory recovery of soluble P2O5. (EFMA Best Available Techniques – Phosphoric Acid [2000].) It is only possible to achieve the desired degree of separation at a reasonable rate if the filtration is either pressure- or vacuum-assisted, and in practice, vacuum is the norm. The remaining liquid must be removed from the filter cake as far as possible at the end of the washing sequence. The cake must then be discharged and the cloth efficiently washed to clear it of any remaining solids which might otherwise build up and impair filtration in subsequent cycles. The vacuum must be released during the discharge of the cake, and it is beneficial to blow air through in the reverse direction at this point to help dislodge the solids. Keywords: Phosphate; Phosphoric acid; Filtration; Recycling; Dihydrate; Calcium; Separation; Washing; Gypsum; Vacuum; Tilting pan; Rotary table; Travelling belt; Cake; Discharge; Prayon; Digestion; Filter; Slurry; Dewatering; Rubber

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