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Publication > Issue > Articles

Bedeschi speeds the throughput

Summary

From its base near Padova, Italy, Bedeschi SpA has gained a global reputation in fulfilling numerous bulk material handling, crushing and storage turnkey projects.

Abstract

The Italian company Bedeschi SpA has gained many years of experience in supplying materials handling equipment, and it has gained particular expertise in designing plants for the continuous loading of fertilizers into vessels of up to Capesize in deepwater anchorages. The unloading unit can be installed on board a floating barge and consists of a BEL C continuous bucket reclaimer, conveyor belts, and a rotary stacker equipped with a trimming chute for loading operations into ocean vessels.

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A tale of two regions

Summary

At today's high prices, everyone is a winner in ammonia and urea markets, and since 2004, nearly every producer around the world has reported profits. But some are winning more than others. Oliver Hatfield, Director of Integer Research, examines the recent fortunes of the nitrogen fertilizer producers in two keynote regions, the Middle East and the Former Soviet Union (FSU).

Abstract

As observed by Oliver Hatfield, Director, Integer Research, these are fascinating times in the nitrogen business. (Competitiveness of the Nitrogen Industry in the Middle East and CIS. Paper presented at 13th AFA International Annual Confer­ence, Sharm El-Shiekh, February 2007.) As ammonia and urea prices reach record highs, the industry worldwide is now reaping good profits, and the upturn in prices has outweighed the rise in production costs. Almost all nitrogen producers reported profits in 2005 and 2006. However, in a field where all participants are at present enjoying good fortune, some are forging ahead of the rest. These may be sunny days for the world nitrogen industry, but this remains a period of transition and changing competitive boundaries. The ammonia and urea industries of the Middle East and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) provide a particularly interesting case study at present.

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Urea rides high

Summary

Traditionally, urea markets have been the most volatile of all fertilizer markets, with sharp gyrations in international prices from one year to the next. But whatever the month-by-month variations, the trend in urea prices has been steadily upwards since mid-2002, to reach unprecedented highs in excess of $300/t by the end of 2006. Is this another flash in the pan, or can the latest upsurge be sustained for even longer?

Abstract

The global urea market exceeded the most optimistic expectations in 2006, when many observers had earlier feared that the high prices seen at the beginning of the year could not be sustained and that demand would be choked off. In the event, international trade continued to rise, demand around the world was sustained (with hints of a revival in Brazil), and the supply/demand balance tightened. IFA estimates that world production of urea totalled 133.5 million tonnes product in 2006, representing an increase of 3.5% over 2005. China contributed around 60% of this increase, with significant additional tonnage from the export-oriented producers in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and Venezuela. (Global Fertilizer Outlook: Retrospective of 2006 and Prospects for 2007, Michel Prud’homme and Patrick Heffer, IFA. Paper presented at AFA International Fertilizer Conference, Sharm El-Sheikh [February 2007].) Abu Dhabi, Argentina, Bahrain and Malaysia also stepped up production of urea.

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The Bayóvar challenge

Summary

The phosphate deposits in the Bayóvar region of northern Peru were discovered a full half century ago, but until now and for various reasons, attempts to exploit them commercially failed to gain sufficient momentum. The dynamics of the Bayóvar project changed radically in 2005, when the Brazilian mining giant CVRD acquired the mining rights. The deal concluded with the Peruvian government stipulated that the project be brought on stream within five years, that is by 2010. It is expected to prove very well timed.

Abstract

The huge phosphate deposit in the Sechura desert in northern Peru first attracted interest in the latter 1950s, having been discovered in the course of a petroleum research programme. The desert is a featureless plain sloping gently from the foothills of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean, broken only by the Illescas Mountains near the coast. It is a remote area, in Piura province, and the climate and soil conditions make it unsuitable for agriculture, as these can support only a few shrub and tree species.

The phosphate deposits are centred in the Bayóvar area of the Sechura desert, much of which lies below sea level (up to -34 m). An unusual aspect is that the main components of the deposit are interbeds of phosphorite and diatomite. In addition, the apatite forming these deposits is relatively deficient in fluorine. The Diana Ore Zone is the thickest and richest of the three phosphate beds within the Diana Zone, designated 1-7 from top to bottom and separated by diatomite beds which also contain phosphate pellets. The entire zone is 35-40 m thick and is extensive, underlying much of the western part of the Sechura desert. The unit contains 7-8% P2O5.

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A brighter future for Egypt's phosphate rock

Summary

Lynda Davies looks at recent developments in Egypt's phosphate rock production sector.

Abstract

Egypt’s phosphate rock production has risen sharply in recent years. From an output of around 1 million tonnes in 2000, local producers estimate that indigenous production had risen to around 3.5 million tonnes by 2005. However, production is believed to have slipped back to an estimated 2.4-2.8 million tonnes. The fall in output is believed to be mainly on account of lower production by the country’s largest state-owned producer, El Nasr Mining Company (EMNC). By contrast, production by Egypt’s privately-owned phosphate rock companies is expected to continue to increase as they bring back into production more mines that have fallen into disuse. In addition, ENMC is planning to develop a new 2 million t/a mine at Aswan as part of its joint-venture with Indian Farmers Fertilizer Co-operative (IFFCO).

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Caustic potash – a valuable niche

Summary

Industrial uses of potash do not enjoy as high a profile as applications in the agricultural sector, but these markets are significant in their own right. Here, we take a bird's eye view of the caustic potash sector.

Abstract

In addition to serving agricultural fertilizer markets throughout the world, the leading potash producers also supply industrial-grade material for a variety of uses. These typically include:

  • In the glass-making industry
  • In the manufacture of potassium hydroxide (KOH)
  • In the oil-drilling industry
  • In aluminium recovery technology
  • As a water softening agent.

Potassium hydroxide (KOH) is also known as caustic potash, potassium lye and potassium hydrate, and is highly alkaline. It is the largest volume potassium chemical for non-fertilizer use. In agriculture, KOH is used to correct the pH of acidic soils. It can also be used as a fungicide and even as a herbicide. KOH is a major industrial chemical that can provide the basis for numerous chemical processes.

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Shifting perspectives

Summary

The booming world economy is driving the demand for products derived from purified phosphoric acid. The dynamics of this sector are examined here.

Abstract

The primary use of phosphoric acid (H3PO4) is in the production of downstream phosphate fertilizers (TSP, DAP and MAP). The merchant grade acid (MGA) used in these fertilizer manufacturing processes has a typical P2O5 content of 54 %, but other industrial and speciality applications may require a much purer acid, of up to 100 % P2O5. Notable non-fertilizer uses of purer grade phosphoric acid include the food and beverage sectors (where the acid is used to acidify colas, for example, thus providing a tangy taste), and phosphoric acid is also used in dentistry as an etching solution and in anti-nausea medications. Other medical uses that require purified phosphoric acid include as a catalyst in the synthesis of aspirin.

Phosphoric acid is additionally used as a cleaner in the construction industry to remove mineral deposits and hard water stains, and as an ingredient in some household cleaners. It is also used as a pH adjus­ter in cosmetics and skin care products.

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