Norway: an eye on flame retardants

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is investigating the extent to which people is exposed to flame retardants substances, including persistent brominated and chlorinated compounds, but also phosphoric acid-based compounds that degrade easily.
Flame retardants are used extensively in a variety of consumer products such as textiles, electrical and electronic equipment and various plastic products to prevent or limit fire. The most commonly used compounds are tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromcyclododecane (HBCD).
The latter two groups of compounds have long been in the spotlight because of their adverse environmental and health properties. Production and use of these compounds is prohibited in Norway and the EU. In several other countries, processes have begun that will lead to a ban.
The new compounds are partially brominated compounds related to PBDEs, but also polychlorinated substances and they all appear to persist in the environment. In contrast, phosphoric acid-based compounds degrade relatively easily but exposure to such substances over long periods can also be hazardous to health.


Mauritania plans phosphate plant

Mauritania targets end 2013 to make its entry in the phosphate market, as it awarded a license to establish a phosphate mine to Bofal Indo Mining Co.

The mine, in the southwest Bofal-Loubeira area, will include a phosphoric-acid processing plant to be constructed within three years. Mauritania is endowed with large volume, good grade sedimentary phosphate rocks. Estimated reserves of the deposits of Bofal and Loubboira are 70 million tonnes at Bofal, and 24 million tonnes at Loubboira. The phosphate resources of the whole area estimated as exceeding 135 million tonnes. The trace element concentrations of uranium and cadmium are low (U = 80 ppm, Cd = 12 ppm). The effort will have to confront climatic constraints and the remote location of the resources.

Agricultural production of cereals, as well as livestock and fish, make up approximately one third of Mauritania’s GDP in one of the poorest and less developed countries in the world.

In 2007 Sudan’s Danfodio Holding and China’s Transtech Engineering have signed an agreement to build a 460 million euro ($634 million) railway linking Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott with southern phosphate deposits at Bofal.

PPL expansion and de-bottlenecking programme

India’s largest DAP producer, Paradeep Phosphates Limited (PPL), has approved a three-year expansion programme to add a new 2,000 tonnes/day sulphuric acid plant and a new gypsum pond, while de-bottlenecking and upgrading the existing phosphoric acid plant. In the financial year 2009-2010, PPL produced 635,520 tonnes of sulphuric acid and 224,500 tonnes P2O5 phosphoric acid. In 2009-10, the Paradeep plant imported 18.55 lt of rock phosphate from Jordan, Vietnam, Morocco and Egypt, while sourcing its sulphur and ammonia mainly from the Gulf countries. PPL was acquired on February 2002 from the Indian government by Zuari-Maroc Phosphates, a 51-49 joint venture between Zuari Industries (Indian K.K Birla Group) and Maroc Phosphore, a wholly owned subsidiary of OCP.

Israel: ICL to buy specialty fertilizers maker Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.

Tel Aviv headquartered Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) offered to buy Scotts Global Professional for US for $270 million. The company sells  specialty fertilizers, greenhouses and specialty crop growers and has anual revenue of about US$242 million, and it is a subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., which manufactures and markets fertilizers, pest controls, plant foods, gardening soils, grass seed, and other products in North America and Europe. This step will allow ICL to duplicate its speciality fertilizers to about 500 million US$ per year. The global market of speciality fertilizers is estimated to be of US$2-2.5 billion dollars per year and its growth rate is of 5-8% p.a., higher than the growth rate of the regular fertilizers, which is of 3-4% p.a.

Sulphuric Acid

Our December 2010 NPK Perspectives electronic journal brings a small profile of this important product.

Spain: FMC Announces Closure of Foret

FMC Corporation announced that it will cease operations at its Foret phosphates plant in Huelva, Spain, by December 31, 2010.  The closure is due to a Spanish judicial ruling that prohibits Foret from adding gypsum to storage stacks near the Huelva site after that date.  Gypsum is a byproduct of phosphoric acid production at the front end of the plant.  Phosphoric acid is used to make sodium and calcium phosphates, including sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP, a key builder for detergents) at the back end of the Huelva plant. Foret has challenged the judicial ruling in the Spanish courts and although the case is now in the appeals stage, a final judgment could take up to three years.  According to FMC Foret sources, the company has pursued access to a long-term supply of phosphoric acid to maintain back-end operations at the plant, but has been unable to secure a viable supply.  FMC Foret is a wholly owned subsidiary of FMC Corporation, a diversified chemical company serving agricultural, industrial and consumer markets. The latter is headquarted in Philadelphia,  USA; they employ some 4,800 people throughout the world, and they had gross revenues of US$2.826 in 2009, compared to US$3.115 billion in 2008.