India: Tata Chemicals is Planning an Urea Plant in Gabon

Mumbai-based Tata Chemicals (TTCH), the world’s second-largest soda ash producer, in partnership with Singapore-based Olam International Ltd. (OLAM), is planning a $1.3 billion gas-based urea plant in the Republic of Gabon, in western  Africa. The project would be implemented through a joint venture called Gabon Fertiliser Company (GFC). Tata Chemicals will provide project management consultancy, and operations and maintenance service once the project will be commissioned. Olam is an integrated global supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients.

Tata Chemicals will acquire the stake from Olam and the Gabon government, which owns 20 percent of the project, expected to make 1.3 million metric tonnes of ammonia and urea a year, with a potential to double the output.

They already have signed the pre-construction services agreement with Technip S.A., which is a world leader in project management, engineering and construction in the energy and chemical industry. Technip will provide licensed technologies for the plant and project financing efforts. The project will be executed by Technip’s operating center in Paris (France), with support from the Rome (Italy), and Chennai (India), operating centers. Upon completion of the front-end engineering and detailed cost estimate, this contract can be seamlessly converted to a lump sum turnkey contract.

The project may generate more than $300 million in earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortization a year. The plant output is planned both for domestic consumption and for export and it includes a 2,200 tonnes per day ammonia plant and a 3,850 tonnes per day granulated urea plant with self-sufficient utility and offsite units and product export facilities. The project reserves up to 25 per cent of the output for sale in Indian markets through Tata Chemicals network, subject to de-canalization in India. Commercial production is forecasted to begin in about two and a half years.

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Malaysia: New Fertilizer Nitrogen Complex

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), jointly with APEX Energy Sdn. Bhd. of Malaysia, and PT Rekayasa Industri (REKIND) in Indonesia, has received an order from PETRONAS Chemical Fertilizer Sabah Sdn. Bhd. (PCFSSB) for a project to construct a large-scale ammonia/urea fertilizer plant. The contract for the construction of the nitrogen plans is of US$1.5 billion. PCFSSB is a subsidiary of PETRONAS Chemicals Group Berhad (PCG), which is an affiliate company of PETRONAS, the national oil company of Malaysia. The contract was signed today in Malaysia. The plant will be the first large-scale fertilizer plant order from Malaysia in 15 years since1996 when MHI received an order from PETRONAS.

The new urea fertilizer plant will be built in Sipitang, approximately 145 kilometers southwest of Kota Kitabalu, the mercantile city in Sabah State on the Island of Borneo. Using natural gas as its feedstock, the plant will have a capacity to produce 2,100 mtpd (metric tons per day) of ammonia and 3,850 mtpd of urea fertilizer. It will adopt process technologies from Haldor Tops.

The construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2012 with completion targeted in 2015. MHI, as leader of the consortium, will be responsible for the basic and detailed design work, the procurement of equipment and the dispatch of technical advisors for installation and test operation.

Malaysia in the second largest grower of palm oil and production may reach 18.1 million metric tonnes this year, compared to 17 million tonnes of the tropical commodity last year.

Russian Federation: Phosphate Project in Dagestan

In the Republic of Dagestan, within the framework of the investment project “On arranging manufacture of extraction phosphoric acid, the qualified phosphates and the reconstruction of the third technological line on manufacture of simple and double superphosphates” the OJSC “Dagfos” is engaged in the installation of new equipment. Practically 60 percent of the equipment had already been delivered to the chemical factory in the North Caucasus region. The output is expected to start this year.

The Rosselhozbank loaned a credit worth 450 million rubles for the project realization.

The investment project implementation will allow to process annually more than 100,000 tonnes of phosphate raw materials and additionally to produce 60,000 tpa of phosphorus-containing fertilizers. More than a thousand new workplaces are expected to be created on the enterprise.

Besides, the enterprise administration intends to found a large-capacity manufacturing plant of sulphuric acid, with a capacity of 180,000 tpa. The realization of this project will allow to provide the enterprise with raw materials for the manufacture of mineral fertilizers and to generate at least part of its needed electric power.

Dagestan lies on the shores of the Caspian Sea and is one of the poorest regions in Russia, but it is rich in natural gas resources.

Iraq: Promising Prospects for Phosphate Rock Mining

The Iraqi government plans to turn the town of Akashat, in the western desert province of Anbar, into a centre for phosphate production, with the aim of supplying consuming markets in Asia. It is estimated that the reserves of phosphate rock in the four biggest deposits holds 5.75bn tonnes, reaching nine per cent of the global total. The two biggest deposits, Akashat and Swab, are thought to hold 1.7bn and 3.5bn tons of phosphate rock respectively. Their grade is slightly below an average of 25 per cent P2O5.

Four phosphate deposits—known as Akashat, H3, Ethna and Swab—are the most promising discoveries, and they also contain some 4.2bn tonnes of limestone, which could be used to manufacture cement.

China: The Authorities Encourage Low Grade Phosphate Rock Exploitation

China will enhance phosphate ore resource exploitation in the coming years and the low grade phosphorus ore exploitation is encouraged.

According to the Development Plan of Chemical Mining Industry, released by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation (CPCIF) in June 2011, China will focus on the exploitation of phosphorus, sulphur and potassium resources in the 12th Five-Year Plan which goes from 2011 to 2015.

The Plan establishes that China aims to realize phosphorus ore self-sufficiency by achieving an annual output of 75 million tonnes by the 2015. In order to achieve the target, the CPCIF suggests rising the utilization rate of phosphorus resource by means of levying lower resource tax to encourage the exploitation of low grade phosphorus ore and raising the entry criteria of phosphorus ore exploitation on scale. Meanwhile, it suggests that the Chinese authorities should improve the phosphorus resource reserving mechanism to protect phosphorus resources.

China produces over 60,000 tpa of phosphate rock concentrate and its reserves are estimated in some 3.7 billion tonnes rock, about 6 percent of the global reserves. In the first half of the current year, China exploited 36.78 million tonnes phosphorus ore, increasing by 25.5% year on year. Hubei, Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan are the main production areas. According to the announcement of the Sate Council in June 2011, the Sate Council will continue to encourage phosphorus resource exploitation in the Yichuan of Hubei Province, the middle part of Yunnan Province and Kaiyang of Guizhou Province to develop local phosphorus chemical industry and set up phosphate chemical bases.

Besides levying lower resource tax, the government also directly rewarded companies on encouraging low grade phosphorus ore exploitation. In February 2011, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Land and Resource jointly rewarded US$ 1.55 million to the Hubei Dayukou Chemical Co. which has made great advances in mining and using low grade phosphorus ore.

Moreover, the Chinese government will continue to implement a phosphate rock export quote system in the coming years to protect the country’s phosphate resources and to forward a phosphate industry sustainable development.

Argentina: Sal de Vida lithium and potash brine project technical advances

Toronto-based Lithium One has significantly advanced the process flow sheet for their Sal de Vida project. Lab and pilot scale testing work have now mapped the path to production of battery-grade lithium carbonate and standard grade potash. Because of to the high potassium and low sulphate content of the Sal de Vida brine, the pilot evaporation ponds have been yielding good potash recovery for months. The potash concentrate from the ponds has now been upgraded with lab-scale flotation cells. These initial tests demonstrated that the potash can be effectively separated from the associated halite (common salt) using conventional flotation methods. This data are being incorporated into the pilot plant, a major step in designing the potash plant process flow sheet.

The Sal de Vida project is one of the largest and the highest-grade lithium and potash brine projects in the world, with an inferred resource of 5.4 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent and 21 million tonnes of potash equivalent (1,470M m3 at 695 mg/L Li and 7590 mg/L K). KORES, LG International and GS Caltex are earning a maximum 30% project equity in Sal de Vida by funding the feasibility study expected in less than twelve months and providing an off-take agreement for up to 50% of the lithium production. Potassium is used to make fertilizer, gun-powder, and various industrial chemicals. For example, potassium can be used to make glass stronger.

Canada: Rio Tinto is Re-Entering the Potash Business

Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining group, is re-entering the potash business through a j-v with North Atlantic Potash, a subsidiary of Russia’s fertilizer maker JSC Acron. The Russians held extensive exploration permits in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. OAO Acron, a major distributor and Russia’s third-largest producer of nitrogen fertilizers.

Rio Tinto will initially acquire a 40 per cent stake in nine blocks covering an area of 241,000 hectares currently held by North Atlantic Potash and under the deal, Rio Tinto can eventually raise its stake as high as 80 per cent. Rio Tinto plc engages in the exploration, mining, and processing of mineral resources. Its products include aluminum, copper, diamonds, energy products, gold, and iron ore. The company also provides industrial minerals, such as titanium dioxide, borates, talc, and salt. Rio Tinto plc operates primarily in Australia, North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and southern Africa. The company was founded in 1873. It was formerly known as The RTZ Corporation PLC and changed its name to Rio Tinto plc in 1997. Rio Tinto plc is based in London. Rio Tinto Group is the world’s third- largest mining company.

India: SPIC plans to sell the Tuticorin complex

After three years of closure, the Spic (Southern Petrochemicals Industries Corporation) was revived on October 2010. The plant is located in Tuticorin and it has capacities por NPK, as well as DAP and SSP. They have captive units of phosphoric acid (700 tonnes per day) and sulphuric acid (2,000 tonnes per day). The company was established in 1992 and in the 2010 the Jordanian JPMC acquired the majority of the company shares. But now it has been informed that the cash-strapped Spic wants to sell the Tuticorin phosphatic business. The Company operates in four segments: agro inputs, which include fertilizers; bulk drug and formulations, which include Penicillin-G (Pen-G) and formulations; SMO (engineering/construction services), which includes maintenance contracts, and others, which include tissue culture and floriculture. They owned 52.17% of the Indo Jordan Chemicals Company Limited, till they divested in April 2010 in benefit of the other principal joint venture partner, Jordan Phosphate Mines Company Limited. The selling of the Tuticorin phosphatic business will be done by the debt aggregator Arcil (Asset Reconstruction Company of India).

Russia: Rossosh to Boost Fertilizer Production Capacities

The OAO Minudobreniya plant, also known as Rossosh, is based on nitrophosphate technology licensed from Yara in the early 1980s, and has an annual production capacity of approximately an annual production capacity of approximately one million tonnes of ammonia, one million tonnes of NPK and 500,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate (AN). Part of their sales were exports of NPKs from Yuzhny in the Black Sea. Last July, the company, based in the central Russian city of Rossosh, was acquired by Arkady Rotenberg for US$1 billion from Yaibera Holdings Limited. Oslo-based Yara International ASA, the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producer, and the other Yaibera shareholders sold their shares to Laguz Management Limited, a company controlled by Arkady Rotenberg.

Now, as the demand for crop nutrients grow, the company announced they will boost capacities, adding 0.5 million tonnes of urea production capacity and increasing ammonia output by 50 percent to 1.5 million tonnes. They are speaking of an investment of one billion dollars. Last year the company sold 1.12 million tonnes of NPK fertilizers, 590,000 tonnes of ammonia and 538,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, achieving revenues of US$581 million.

Algeria: End of the game for Kimial Annaba?

The majority shareholder of the SPA Kimial Annaba, the Tunisian group Alkimia, announced it will sell its 55% participation in the company. The 45% balance is hold by the Algerian group Asmidal. The Algerian company specialized in the production, marketing and export of STPP (sodium tripolyphosphate) for the manufacture of detergents and ceramics, and marketing of soda ash. The plant produced up to 40,000 tpa STPP using North African raw materials, namely, phosphoric acid from Gabes and caustic soda produced in Algeria. Kimial finished 2010 with a deficit of nearly 2.3 million euros and they are heavily indebted to the Banque extérieure d’Algérie (BEA).

Alkimia’s STPP became non-competitive among detergent manufacturers who have been developing polymers and enzymes, which are a more cheaper replacement. STPPs have long played an essential role in detergents, binding hard-water ions such as magnesium and calcium that would otherwise diminish the effectiveness of the surfactants by forming poorly soluble complexes. Despite their high level of performance, however, phosphates in general have come under increasing pressure from environmentalists and politicians because of their contribution to the eutrophication of water, which promotes excessive plant growth and decay, severely reducing water quality. The leading producer of detergents in Algeria, Henkel, stopped using STPP in its products last year (till then they used some 35,000 tpa). Kimial also suffers from equipment maintenance deficiencies and manpower problems.

Kimial has 53 permanent workers, now quite worried about their future.

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