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Publication > Issue > Articles

Opportunities in Africa

Summary

Could blended fertilizers help spearhead the much-needed transformation of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa?

Abstract

Bulk blending is defined as the mechanical mixing of two or more granular fertilizer materials to produce mixtures containing N, P, K and other essential plant nutrients. It allows small batches of high analysis soil and crop specific fertilizers to be mixed and transported in an economical manner…contributing additional profit for farmers and improving the environment because it provides balanced fertilisation. (Bulk Blending of Dry Fertilizer Materials, James D. Beaton, Better Crops International, May 1997) Having gained phenomenal acceptance initially in North America during the 1950s and 1960s, now accounting for around 45-50% of all fertilizer sold in the United States, bulk blending has subsequently spread its wings, becoming widely accepted firstly in Europe and most recently, in Latin America. Bulk blending also offers considerable opportunities to help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa gain self-sufficiency.

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Ma'aden contracts signed

Summary

The engineering contracts signed on 25 June 2007 give the green light to fulfilling this worldscale ­project, which will have significant implications for the global supply/demand balance for DAP.

Abstract

Ma’aden, the Saudi Arabian Mining Company, has finalised contracts for three plants, paving the way for the construction of the world’s largest fully integrated phosphate fertilizer production operation. The lumpsum turnkey contracts for engineering, procurement, construction and pre-commissioning/commissioning (EPCP/EPC) cover the sulphuric and phosphoric acid, ammonia and granulation plants for Ma’aden’s proposed phosphate fertilizer complex at Raz az Zawr, some 85 km north of Al-Jubail, on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia, where the company seeks to produce up to 2.9 million t/a of DAP.

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Challenges on two fronts

Summary

The Polish fertilizer industry has not only had to address the challenge of coming to terms with the new market conditions that accompanied Poland's entry into the European Union, but it is now having to face an additional challenge that comes from the large neighbour to the east: how to afford the sharply rising gas costs that are being levied by Gazprom.

Abstract

Poland has a very long established fertilizer industry, which became a centrepiece in the centrally-plan­ned economic institutions that were set up after 1945. By the late 1980s, the Polish fertilizer industry had reached a peak production capacity of 1.64 million t/a N and 945,000 t/a P2O5. Poland’s potash requirements were met by imports from fellow Comecon members, the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, which supplied around 1.35 million t/a. (Ferti­lizer Use by Crop in Poland, FAO/IFA [2003].)

Polish agriculture had managed to avoid being collectivised, and private smallholdings consequently prevailed throughout the communist era. Productivity was not high, however, and this has remained the case in the democratic era. In 2005, the agricultural sector was estimated to employ around 16% of the Polish workforce but contributed only 2.8% to the GDP. An estimated two million private farms account for 90% of all farmland. Farms tend to be small, covering an average of only 8 hectares. Farms with an area exceeding 15 ha accounted for only 9% of the total number of farms but cover 45% of the total agricultural area. Over half of all farm households in Poland produce only for their own needs, with little commercial sales.

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An emerging elite

Summary

This review by Dr. Nina Khangaldyan, Head of the Marketing Department of CJSC InterGazInvest, puts the spotlight on the leading Russian fertilizer producers. She notes that an elite group of companies continues to gain strength in international fertilizer markets, and these companies are investing heavily in new and modernised production facilities. However, there remain several significant undercurrents within the Russian fertilizer industry, including continuing issues relating to overall ownership, as well as the ability of fertilizer companies to raise new capital.

Abstract

This review focuses on the major players in the Russian fertilizer market, paying particular attention to:

  • The history of privatisation in Russia, and the terms and conditions for establishing modern company structures in the industry.
  • The availability and supply of raw materials to the leading fertilizer producers.
  • Profiles of the leading fertilizer industry players.
  • Future developments in the industry structure.
  • The profitability of the leading players.
  • Issues and investment prospects.

The Russian fertilizer industry plays a global role, and the country ranks among the top five in terms of fertilizer production. In all, Russia accounts for 7% of world fertilizer production and for 15% of world exports. At present, the Russian fertilizer industry is characterised by a very high level of concentration. Its leading producers (EuroChem, PhosAgro, Uralkali) rank among the top 12 in the world. They also enjoy world leadership in terms of rates of growth and profitability.

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Another TKF contract success in Russia

Summary

ThyssenKrupp Fördertechnik has joined forces with the Russian fertilizer holding company, EuroChem, to provide the equipment for a new fertilizer terminal at the Black Sea port of Tuapse.

Abstract

Hot on the heels of its success in equipping the European Sulphur Terminal (EST) in the Baltic port of Ust-Luga, ThyssenKrupp Fördertechnik (TKF) has reported that it will supply equipment for a new fertilizer handling terminal in the Port of Tuapse, Krasnodar region, Russia. This terminal will be equipped with the most modern technology available and is currently under construction at the Black Sea port of Tuapse, 300 km from Russia’s border with Georgia. According to the type of fertilizer being handled, the terminal will achieve a handling capacity of between 2.5-3 million t/a. Throughput is expected to consist mainly of MAP/DAP and carbamide products. The terminal is owned by Tuapse Bulk Terminal, a subsidiary of the EuroChem group.

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Hemi forever?

Summary

This review explains why the hemihydrate process has become the preferred process for phosphoric acid production, and is drawn from the paper (The Hemi Era in Phosphoric Acid) that was presented by John Wing, Vice President, HiTech Solutions, Inc. at the 2006 Clearwater Convention.

Abstract

The term hemi refers to calcium sulphate hemihydrate. A phosphoric acid plant produces far more gypsum (calcium sulphate) than phosphoric acid, at a ratio of approximately 5 tonnes CaSO4 to each tonne of P2O5. The dihydrate process served as the standard for the phosphate industry for many decades, and has a long track record of reliable operation. It however is less energy efficient, as most phosphate rocks must be finely ground before processing. The filter product phosphoric acid is typically only 25-28% P2O5, so further concentration is required before making phosphate fertilizers. Innovations have been used to expand the capacity of some dihydrate plants to more than double their capacity, but the process has now been largely superseded in new phosphoric acid projects by the hemihydrate (hemi) process. Other phosphoric acid processes including di-hemi and a short-cut hemi-di have also found niches.

The advantages of the traditional dihydrate process include:

  • A long track record of experience
  • Predictable performance
  • High capacity relative to equipment size
  • Moderate recovery and sulphuric acid requirements.

The disadvantages include:

  • Fine grinding of rock is normally required
  • The acid must be further concentrated to produce most fertilizers
  • A large cooling water requirement.

The hemi process was first developed in the 1960s by the UK company, Fisons, which became part of Norsk Hydro (now Yara). The process operates at a high concentration of phosphoric acid, where the gypsum crystals exist as the hemihydrate form of calcium sulphate (CaSO4.½H2O). This contrasts with the dihydrate process, which operates at a much lower concentration of phosphoric acid, where the gypsum crystals exist as the dihydrate form of calcium sulphate (CaSO4.2H2O).

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IFFCO makes good at Paradeep

Summary

The Paradeep fertilizer complex that was developed originally by Oswal Chemicals & Fertilisers Ltd. was notable for incorporating the world's largest single-stream DAP plant. Under Oswal's ownership, the complex had a very chequered history, falling foul of the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), which ordered the halting of production. The plant was idle at the time of IFFCO's take-over. The new owners wasted no time in ensuring that the complex would meet the SPCB's environmental stipulations, as described here by M.R. Patel, Acting Senior General Manager, at IFFCO Paradeep.

Abstract

Indian Farmers Fertiliser Co-operative Limited (IFFCO) operates a complex at Paradeep, Orissa, some 110 km from the state capital of Bhubaneshwar, which it acquired from Oswal Chemicals & Fertilisers in September 2005. Paradeep is the deepest natural port on the East Coast of India. The capacities of the various plants at the complex are shown in Table 1 below.

The schematic diagram for the entire IFFCO Paradeep phosphate fertilizer complex is shown in Fig. 1. The principal raw materials used at the complex are phosphate rock, sulphur, sulphuric acid and ammonia, which IFFCO’s Paradeep unit imports from various countries. These raw materials are unloaded at the IFFCO jetty in Paradeep port by two ship unloaders. These are hydraulically powered, using water supplied from the Taldanda canal, which is 2 km away from the plant site. The electric power requirement is met through the captive power plant, which is equipped with two turbo generators, each with a capacity of 55 mW. The annual raw material requirements of the Paradeep complex are shown in Table 2.

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A pioneering Chinese plant comes on stream

Summary

Guizhou Hongfu Industry & Commerce Development Co. Ltd. (Wengfu) commissioned Bateman Litwin N.V. to provide a state-of-the-art and world-scale purified phosphoric acid plant, the first of its kind on China

Abstract

A new Purified Phosphoric Acid (PPA) production plant has started operation in China at the beginning of 2007. This is the first plant to produce PPA from merchant grade phosphoric acid in China and with a capacity of 100,000 t/a PPA, it is the second largest single plant of its kind in the world. The project, executed by Bateman Litwin, was successfully completed in accordance with the contract, and the products meet the international specifications for food and technical grade PPA.

The project is particularly well timed. During the past ten years, demand for PPA has risen sharply, especially in the wake of tighter environmental requirements in the advanced western economies. These requirements have had the following consequences:

  • A drastic reduction in the use of STPP, the main industrial phosphate salt used as a component for detergent use.
  • Shutting down or mothballing elemental P4 production facilities, resulting in reduced thermal phosphoric acid production (TPA).
  • Increased PPA production capacity using solvent extraction (SX) technology.
  • The concentration of production facilities at larger production sites.
  • Closure of most P4 production facilities in the United States and Western Europe.

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