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Fertilizer Industry financial fortunes

Summary

Fourth quarter results suggest that 2014 ended well for many of the fertilizer industry's big players. A pick up in Brazilian demand, strong potash sales and an end-of-year rally in phosphate product prices all benefitted the bottom line in 2014.

Abstract

The usual flurry of fourth quarter and full-year company results emerged in February. Unsurprisingly, as the round-up of annual results below illustrates, the fortunes of the big fertilizer producers over the last 12 months reflect their different market niches, business models and locations. But some common factors did affect the sector’s major players last year. Potash sales volumes in 2014 were at or close to record levels for many producers, for example. A rally in the price of phosphate fertilizers, falling energy costs, the strength of the dollar and strong demand in Brazil also shaped financial ­fortunes in 2014. Keywords: Mosaic; Sales; Volumes; Annual earnings; Profits; Potash; Phospahtes; Wa’ad Al Shamal; Ma’aden; SABIC; Carlsbad; Brazil; Jordan; India; MicroEssentials; Intrepid Potash; Agrium; Saskatchewan; Yara; EBITDA; EuroChem; PhosAgro; PotashCorp

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Eurochem: Accelerating momentum

Summary

Clark Bailey, Mining Director of EuroChem talks to FI about the company's latest milestones as it brings two potash mining projects towards fruition in Russia and develops phosphate production in Kazakhstan.

Abstract

What would you regard as the flagship developments of 2014 throughout the EuroChem portfolio? It was a year of good accomplishments overall. Sinking the two shafts was finished at the Usolskiy potash complex in Siberia, while the new open pit phosphate mine in Kazakhstan began production. The infrastructure is now in place at the VolgaKaliy potash mine, where we are making fast progress on all three shafts, with all three permanent head frames now in place. The skip shaft No. 1 now extends to 857 m and the hitch with the water seal design has been finalised and installed below the lowest water bearing level and freeze wall level. The production storage area has been started while the huge and very modern electrical sub-station has been fully commissioned. ABB has supplied the sub-station equipment. All surface work at the site is on-going in various stages of progress. At the Kovdor mine in the Murmansk region, we brought the new apatite line on stream from a new mineral deposit adjacent to the old existing open pit, although all of the processing plant associated with this new deposit will only come on stream later this year. Keywords: Potash; Project; Mining; Phosphate; Kazakhstan; CAPEX; Ore; Shaft; Beneficiation; Rouble; Russia; Phosphate rock; Karatau; Jambyl; Zhanatas; Capacity; Belaruskali; Migao; JV; SWOT; Solikamsk; Esterhazy

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Indian fertilizers usher in a new era

Summary

Dr MP Sukumaran Nair, managing director, Travancore Cochin Chemicals Ltd, and former special secretary to the Kerala government's chief minister, asks whether the recent change in government in Delhi heralds a new era for the Indian fertilizer industry.

Abstract

The two trillion dollar Indian economy looks set to grow at an impressive 8-9% annually under the newly-installed government. But the productive sectors of the economy – agriculture and industry – both need a thorough revamp if the Indian economy is to boost its productivity and regain growth. Wider economic progress on the subcontinent is critically dependent on industrial and agricultural growth being restored. Economic prospects for the country are also closely linked to other major national challenges such as attaining food security and the revival of manufacturing. The new Indian government has attempted to address these issues in its maiden budget last year. The people of India and the international community are now looking at how Prime Minister Modi will translate this into a pragmatic plan of action. Keywords: GDP; Food security; Subsidy; Grains; Rice; Wheat; Pulses; Self-sufficiency; NBS; Urea; NPK; Policy; LNG; Natural gas; Nutrient; Coal; Outlook; Micronutrients; Methane

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Working with China's farmers on balanced fertilizer use

Summary

In an exclusive interview, Dr Ping He of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences talks about her role at International Plant Nutrition Institute and its important work in China.

Abstract

Fertilizer production and consumption have grown steadily in China over the past two decades. The Chinese government has educated farmers in modern husbandry methods as part of its efforts to expand national food production. This has led to greater use of chemical fertilizer and improvements in agricultural technology across many parts of the country. One organization with a long history of supporting China’s growing food production needs – particularly the adoption of balanced, site-specific fertilizer use – is the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI). IPNI runs separate regional support programmes covering five continents – China, India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America – as part of its overall global strategy. China remains an important part of IPNI’s worldwide work due to its huge population and vast geographical size. Keywords: IPNI; Academy; Programme; Research; Development; Subsidies; Technology; Nutrient; Export; 15-15-15; Deficiency; 4Rs; Stewardship; SMS

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Feedstock Availability: The alternatives to natural gas

Summary

Recent developments in the gas, coal energy and other sectors and their potential impact on fertilizer production capability are outlined.

Abstract

In its medium-term outlook for fertilizers’ and raw materials’ global supply (Michel Prud’homme [May 2014].), IFA notes that feedstock for the production of ammonia continues to evolve in favour of natural gas and coal. In addition, there are niches for a variety of less conventional feedstocks, including coke oven gas, petroleum coke, naphtha, biomass and gasified municipal waste. The shares of these niche feedstocks are forecast to remain static of the next five years, accounting for a forecast 7.6 million t/a of world ammonia capacity in 2019, but they may become more significant in the longer term. Table 1 shows production, consumption and reserves of the major gas producing and consuming countries around the world. In terms of reserves, Russia and the Middle East (led by Qatar and Iran) enjoy the largest reserves. On the production side, output from the United States continues to increase, overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer in 2009. The United States also holds a substantial lead as the largest gas consumer and still runs at a slight net deficit. There has been a notable ramp up of production capacity in Iran and Qatar, while Egypt’s rising consumption (especially in the wake of increased ammonia and urea capacity) means that the country could before long become a net gas importer: supplies of natural gas to the country’s ammonia and urea complexes have already been disrupted by sporadic gas shortages. Keywords: Natural gas; Coal; Ammonia; Naphtha; Biomass; Municipal waste; Qatar; Russia; Egypt; China; India; Iran; Turkmenistan; Haber-Bosch; LNG; GTL; Gasification; Hydrogen; Syngas; Synthesis gas; Gasifier; CO2; H2S; UCG; CCS; Stamicarbon; KBR; Dakota Gasification; Reactor; Fischer-Tropsch; Linc Energy; Queensland; Billingham; Australia; Uzbekistan; Coffeyville; Corn

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Urea plant design: Innovations boost plant efficiencies

Summary

Developments in urea plant design have been driven by the construction of large-scale single-unit grass-roots facilities, together with the application of new materials with improved corrosion resistance and mechanical strength, revamps of existing facilities, as well as developments in granulation and cooling/conditioning technology.

Abstract

While a world-scale grass-roots urea plant will today cost comfortably in excess of $1-2 billion, many established producers continue to seek enhanced capacity and efficiencies from their existing operations. Specialist technology suppliers have continued to find innovative ways of boosting plant capacity and reliability, at relatively low capital costs. Casale S.A. is a world leader in the revamping sector, and its Split Flow and Full Condenser technologies provide an advanced and proven way to boost CO2 stripping plants, while Casale’s Vortex Granulation technology has been developed most recently to boost the capacity of urea prilling plants. (Split Flow and Full Condenser and Vortex Granulation Technologies, Stefano Reggiori, Casale S.A. Paper presented and Nitrogen+Syngas 2014.) These Casale technologies were recently installed in a Chinese urea plant, the first such application in China. The CO2 stripping urea plant was originally designed with a capacity of 1,500 t/d and was latterly operating at an average 1,740 t/d. Casale’s remit was to raise this capacity to 2,610 t/d, using its proprietary technology, incorporating Casale-Dente High-Efficiency Trays™, Split Flow Loop™, Full Condenser™, MP Split Flow Section™ and Vortex Granulator™ technologies. Keywords: Urea Plant Design; Innovations; Efficiencies; Revamps; Granulation; Cooling; Conditioning; Casale; Prilling; Urea; CO2; Stripping; Conversion; Energy; Utilities; Condenser; Reactor; Synthesis loop; Debottlenecking; HP; Carbamate; Scrubber; Heat recovery; Pump; Centrifugal; Inerts; Compressor; Evaporation; Vacuum; Treatment; Column; Process; Distillation; Hydrolyser; Stainless steel; Carbon; EnviroCare; Precipitator; Venturi; Mother liquor; Vapour; LMTD

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Paddy rice fertilisation: Every nutrient matters

Summary

An assessment of best management practices for optimum nutrient efficiency.

Abstract

As a cereal grain, rice is the most widely consumed staple food for much of the world’s population, especially in Asia. It is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize. Rice cultivation is well-suited to countries and regions with high rainfall and is labour-intensive to produce and requires ample water. The crop can be grown practically anywhere, even on a steep hill or mountain area, using water-controlling terrace systems. The traditional method for cultivating rice is flooding the fields while (or after) setting the young seedlings. This method requires sound planning and serving of the water management systems. While flooding is not mandatory for the cultivation of rice, all other methods of irrigation require higher effort in weed and pest control during growth periods and a different approach for fertilising the soil. Keywords: Paddy rice; Rice; Nutrient efficiency; Egypt; Australia; China; Yield; Harvest; Green Revolution; Japan; Application rates; Foliar; Vietnam; pH; Deficiency symptoms; Nitrification; Rhizosphere; Spikelets; Volatisation; Denitrification; Leaching; Run-off; Ammonium; N losses; Trials; Tillering; Ca; Mg; Zn; Secondary nutrients; Micronutrients; Gypsum; Chlorosis; Interveinal; Mn; Al; Foliar

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Global phosphate outlook: a difficult balancing act

Summary

Global demand for phosphates is expected to grow steadily over the medium-term. We examine whether the expansion in capacity planned over the next three years will match growing demand or be surplus to requirement.

Abstract

As recently as last October, US fertilizer giant Mosaic was predicting record-breaking global phosphate shipments in 2015, despite underlying worries about the knock-on effect of crop price weakness on fertilizer sales. “Yes, there’s ups and downs, dips and valleys, but the trend is unrelenting,” commented Mosaic’s chief executive officer Jim Prokopanko. “It is upward.” Mosiac and analysts CRU are forecasting a 2.5% increase in world phosphate product shipments this year to reach 65.4 million tonnes. That is up 1.6 million tonnes on 2014 shipments of 63.8 million tonnes. Demand for phosphate products surged last year, driven by record United States (US) imports, a rising requirement from Brazil and a rebound in the Indian market. This demand was mainly met by increased exports from China, Morocco and Saudi Arabia (Fig. 1). The switch in Chinese exports to more distant destinations, in response to lower-than-expected Indian demand, was a notable trend in 2014. Phosphate imports to India remain at half the level of their 2010 peak, with China now exporting almost as much to Brazil (1.02 million tonnes) last year as it did to the subcontinent (1.08 million tonnes). China also exported 238,000 tonnes to the US in 2014 compared to virtually nothing in 2013. Keywords: Mosaic; Brazil; China; India; Morocco; Saudi Arabia; IFA; Tunisia; Jordan; Phosphoric acid; DAP; Jorf Lasfar; Ma’aden; Vale

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US phosphates: The US keeps up its excellent work

Summary

The United States is acknowledged to have pioneered modern phosphate production but is facing new challenges as its output declines. We profile seven organisations determined to cement the country's reputation as a global centre of excellence for the phosphate industry.

Abstract

Mineral statistics can be deceptive. US phosphate production peaked at 54.4 million tonnes in 1980, accounting for 37% of world production that year. Production has slid inexorably since then to an estimated 27.1 million tonnes last year, only 12% of global production. That figure is dwarfed by the 100 million tonnes of phosphate rock produced by China in 2014 and also eclipsed by Morocco’s latest 30 million tonne annual production volume. Yet the US remains a global heavyweight. Phosphate extracted from 11 mines by five firms in four states still generates $2.4 billion worth of processed products annually and employs 2,100 in mining and beneficiation. Florida and North Carolina account for four fifths of domestic phosphate rock output with Idaho and Utah making up the final fifth. Keywords: Phosphates; Florida; Wyoming; North Carolina; DAP; MAP; Phosphoric acid; FIPR; Phosphogypsum; Dolomite; Spectrometry; Dewatering; Magnesium; Beneficiation; Mining; Research; LIBS; Clay; Flotation; IHP; Aggregate; Agrifos; Wonarah; KEMWorks; Guinea-Bissau; Farim; PegasusTSI; OCP; Khouribga; SSP; DCP; K-Tech; CIX; MER; REEs; Fluorides; Silica; Uranium; Anti-caking; Defoamers; Flocculants; Dust control; ArrMaz; Phosphorus

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Potash ore processing: Meeting the needs of an exacting market

Summary

The production of marketable potash from the basic ore may comprise a series of processes, including crushing and pre-screening, milling, flotation, salt leaching from the flotation concentrate, drying, granulation and refining. Developments in potash processing technology are described.

Abstract

Most of the world’s potash is extracted from evaporites by underground or solution mining. Another important source is brine from land-locked water bodies, as in the Dead Sea, Salar de Atacama and the Great Salt Lake. Like most industrial minerals, potash is sold based both on its chemical composition and size distribution. Fertilizer-grade potash is typically marketed with a chemical composition of 60% K2O minimum. Various potash fertilizer products are marketed based on their size distributions. The most common are granular, coarse, standard and fine. All four have the same chemical composition, but differ on their particle size distribution specifications. The coarser products are sold at a premium. (Potash Processing in Saskatchewan – A Review of Process Technologies, Carlos Perucca, AMEC Engineering & Construction Services Ltd.). Particle size of fertilizer products is characterised by the two parameters of Size Guide Number (SGN) and the Uniformity Index (UI). SGN is defined as the particle size in millimetres, of which 50% by weight of the sample is coarser and 50% finer, times 100. The UI is the particle size of which 95% of the material is retained, divided by the particle size at which 10% of the material is retained, multiplied by 100. Fig. 1 shows the calculation of the SGN number and UI index. Keywords: Ore; Potash; Drying; Granulation; Refining; Evaporites; Dead Sea; Salar de Atacama; Great Salt Lake; Granular; Coarse; Standard; Fine; SGN; UI; Crystallisation; Electrostatic separation; Crushing; Comminution; Impactors; Hydrocyclones; Desliming; Conditioning; Sylvite; Polyelectrolytes; Brines; Magnetite; Cyclones; Amines; Reagents; Centrifuges; Sylvite; Beneficiation; Insolubles; Slimes; Sylvinite; Halite; Carnallite; Kieserite; Eriez; Rexnord; Swenson; Crystalliser; GEA-Rosin

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