Vietnam: New Nitrogen Fertilizer Plants

Two new fertilizer plants, the Ca Mau Fertilizer plant in U Minh District of the southernmost Mekong Province of Ca Mau and the Ninh Binh Fertilizer Plant in the northern province of Ninh Binh will be fully operational by the end of the year.

Along with the Phu My Fertilizer Plant in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and the Ha Bac Fertilizer Plant in the northern province of Bac Giang, the two new plants will help the country achieve its target of 2 million tonnes of urea per year.

Before the Phu My Fertilizer Plant was operational, most of the urea was imported, as the national capacity was insufficient. Since 2004, national output increased by nearly 1 million tonnes per year.

The Phu My Fertilizer Plant produces 800,000 tonnes and the Ha Bac Fertilizer Plant 190,000 tonnes. The complex produced 807,129 tonnes of urea in 2010 or 108 per cent of its yearly plan. The figure represented a 5.9 per cent year-on-year increase against 2009.

With the added capacity of the two new fertilizer plants, urea capacity will increase to around 560,000 tons per annum.

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Egypt: EHC will build an AN plant on the Suez coast

Egypt Hydrocarbon Corporation (EHC) has secured a USD 298 million loan from domestic banks to fund the construction of a chemical complex in Ain Sohkna, on the Suez coast of Egypt. The total investment of EHC will be of USD 454 million.

The complex will produce nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and materials for use in the mining industry.

Egypt Hydrocarbon Corporation, a subsidiary of Carbon Holdings, expects to begin operations in 2013. It will consist of a 850 tpd nitric acid plant and a 1,060 tpd AN plant. A Procurement and Construction Agreement has been reached with Uhde GmbH.

Azerbaijan: New Nitrogen Project

Currently Azerbaijan is covering their fertilizer consumption, which is over one million tonnes, completely through imports. But now Socar, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, is planning to build an urea plant in Sumgait (also known as Sumqayit) that will have a designed capacity of 2,000 tpd. Azerbaijani sources have estimated the potential demand of urea in the country in about 320,000-350,000 tpa. The plant location will be near the Caspian Sea, some 31 km away from the country’s capital, Baku.
Feedstock will be based on the domestic natural gas production, which in the latest years was of about 15 billion cubic metres per year, or 0.5% of the global production, more than countries like the Ukraine or Germany. Azerbaijan proved natural gas reserves are abundant and are estimated in some 1.3 trillion cubic metres, about 0.7% of the world reserves. Efforts to boost Azerbaijan’s gas production are underway.
The project will be environmental effective as it is expected not to emit the produced carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but to use it as additional feedstock in the urea manufacturing.
More than half of Azerbaijan lands are agricultural and their main products are cotton, grain, rice, grapes, fruit, vegetables, tea, tobacco; cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats. The agricultural production in Azerbaijan increased by 10.2 percent, including crop production, which increased by 15.1 percent, and livestock by 4.8 percent in the first seven months of 2011 compared to the same period of 2010.

Tunisia: Phosphate Mining Prospects

Celamin Holdings has advanced a further $1 million to Celamin Ltd to fast-track drilling at the highly prospective Chaketma Phosphate and tailings project in Tunisia. The parent company operated mainly as an explorer for gold mineralization within Australia, and it was formerly known as Victorian Gold Mines NL. Celamin is in a joint venture with Tunisian Mining Services at Chaketma, which is contained within a 56 square kilometre area, and carries conceptual targets with potential to host 150 to 200 million tonnes of P2O5 at grades of 17 to 22%.

Celamin holds an 80% interest in the three year exploration permit, and has already identified multiple exploration targets with an initial focus at the Gasaa El Kebira Prospect. This project has larger target potential than the Bir El Alfou Phosphate Project, which is located in Western Tunisia, and is a joint venture between Celamin Ltd and Tunisian Mining Services, with an 80%/20% split.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Tunisia phosphate rock reserves in 100 million tonnes. Tunisia is the fifth global rock producer (after China, USA, Morocco and Russia) and most of the output is used domestically for downstream manufacturing.

Mongolia: GMM has commenced deep potash exploratory drilling at the Uvs Basin Project

The Australian General Mining Corporation Ltd. (GMM) announced in August that “deep potash exploratory drilling has commenced as planned at its Uvs Basin Project in Mongolia and this program is expected to take about 4 months. The Company commissioned a reputable international drilling contractor for 3,000 to 5,000 line metres of potash exploratory drilling to an average depth of 1,000 metres per hole targeting bedded potash as a primary exploration target. Drill hole locations and drilling parameters have been identified in consultation with one of the leading international experts on potash geology and mining German firm ERCOSPLAN, who remain the Company’s major technical advisor on this project. The Uvs project comprises 5 granted exploration licences covering more than 2,000 km2 within the Uvs Nuur Basin in the north-west Mongolia that is considered prospective for bedded and domal (salt diapir) potash deposits as well as for lithium and potassium brines.

The project is located near the Russian border in northwest Mongolia and is near a planned railway to be completed by 2015.

Chile: Advance of first stages of the Maricunga Project

Lithium and minerals exploration company Li3 Energy Inc., formerly NanoDynamics Holdings, Inc., has an exploration and development plan for its Maricunga project in northern Chile. In May 2011, it acquired a 60% interest in a group of six private companies that collectively owned the Maricunga Project. Li3 Energy focuses on the discovery and development of lithium and potassium brine, and nitrate and iodine deposits in Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Maricunga covers an area of approximately 1,438 hectares, comprising six concessions, and is located in the northeast section of the Salar de Maricunga in Region III of Atacama.

Projects estimated for completion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 include the seismic survey and modeling, and core sample drilling. They have calculated a non compliant mineral resource of 224,300 tonnes of lithium and 3.27 million tonnes of potash. The company also expects to complete an environmental impact study (EIS) by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, which is required for the permitting of a commercial production facility that can use brine from the project.

In February 2010, Li3 Energy acquired 100% of the assets of the Loriscota, Suches and Vizcachas Projects located respectively in the regions of Puno, Tacna and Moquegua, Peru. In July 2010, it acquired Noto Energy S.A., which owns a 100% interest over 2,995 acres situated on brine salars in Argentina, named Cauchari.

Li3 Energy secured USD 18 million in funding for the Maricunga Project from POSCO Canada Ltd, a subsidiary of South Korea-based industrial company POSCO.

India: Two New Water-Soluble Fertilizer Plants

Potash and phosphate maker Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) announced that it was expanding its production capacity and is to establish two soluble fertilizer manufacturing plants in India with its local partner, Zuari Industries, which operates in north and east India. One unit will be established in Rajasthan and is scheduled to start-up by late 2013. It will be followed by the other one, which will be located in Orissa. The cost of the project is of about USD 9.84 million. The new plants will have an annual production capacity of 30,000 tonnes each.

“The decision to open two more plants stems from the success of the existing plant, the current shift in India’s agriculture to modern and intensive methods and growing demand for soluble and complex fertilizers resulting from this shift,” the ICL company said in a statement.

Zuari Industries, part of the Saroj Poddar-led Adventz group, produces and distributes fertilizers and agricultural products throughout India and is partner with ICL in the specialty fertilizer 50:50 joint venture  operating in India under the name Zuari Rotem Specialty Fertilizers.

Since March 2010, Zuari has been operating a soluble fertilizer plant with a production capacity of 32,000 tonnes a year. At present its total capacity to produce water soluble NPK speciality fertilizers is of 50,000 tpa.

ICL said that “the decision to expand the cooperation with Zuari Industries is a further step in the implementation of our expansion strategy in specialty fertilizers abroad and in general – mainly in emerging markets where we see considerable growth potential.”

“We believe that our leadership in delayed release and controlled release fertilizers alongside Zuari’s distribution and service array will allow us to respond to the special needs of India’s farmers through the new plants and to obtain a competitive edge”.

The Indian markets’ demand for soluble fertilizers has been growing continuously over the past several years, reflecting the region’s growing adoption of advanced fertigation techniques (such as through drip irrigation systems) and foliar fertilization. Consumption of water-soluble speciality fertilizers is growing at 18-20 percent annually.

In the second part of August, ICL published its financial results for the second quarter of 2011, reporting a net profit of US$119 million – a 44% leap compared with the same quarter last year.

India: Growing concern about terrorist uses of Ammonium Nitrate

Manufacturers of AN or of fertilizer products containing AN, could confront new regulations concerning the monitoring of its production and distribution. The problem is the use made of it by terrorists, for example in the terrible blasts in Mumbai on July 13th, that left 26 dead. AN was found to be the main explosive that triggered the blasts.

Ammonium nitrate can be extracted from CAN or other fertilizers. Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Co. Ltd (GNVFC) manufactures about 100,000 tonnes tpa of CAN and is India’s largest producer. In virtue of this they have of course being involved in discussion with the authorities about the issue. India’s AN production is aimed for domestic consumption.

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Belgium: Tessenderlo Improves Feed Phosphates Results

Brussels based Tessenderlo Chemie NV, the world’s second-biggest maker of potash sulphate, announced that their feed phosphates sales increased in Q2 2011 in comparison to the same period last year. This was despite sales volumes falling, partly due to a period of force majeure in April and part of May when raw material deliveries were delayed but also due to technical issues which constrained production capacity during that period. In 2010 they were the world’s third-largest producer of animal-feed phosphates with a capacity of 0.8 million tpa.
In spite of a small decrease in sales volume, in the Q2 2011 the average DCP selling prices improved significantly in comparison to the low levels witnessed in the same period last year. This brought a improved phosphates EBITDA.

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