India: Aditya Birla Chemicals has bought a phosacid plant in South West India state of Karnataka

Aditya Birla Chemicals has bought the chlor-alkali and phosphoric acid division of Solaris Chemtech Industries for Rs 153 crore. The deal will help Aditya Birla Chemicals, a part of the Aditya Birla group, to enter the southern market and also add phosphoric acid to its product portfolio. Solaris Chemtech Industries has a 24,000-tonne-a-year phosphoric acid plant in Karwar, Karnataka, which produced 21,380 tonnes of phosphoric acid in 2012-13.

Founded in 2003, Solaris ChemTech, part of the $4 billion Avantha Group, is the largest producer of bromine and bromine chemicals and technical grade phosphoric acid. The company is a closely held unlisted company with its registered office in Delhi.

Aditya Birla Group’s chemical manufacturing firm ABCIL operates through four companies – Aditya Birla Nuvo, Grasim, Aditya Birla Chemicals (India) and Tanfac. During the year ended March of 2012, sales at Aditya Birla Chemicals were USD 107.62 million, which was an increase of 159% as compared to the previous year. This was the fifth consecutive year of sales increases at the company, whose sales have increased a total of 333% since 2007.


Tunisia: Alkimia Troubles

Due to the hindrances that the chemical company Alkimia suffered because of production interruptions, their annual shipments of STPP declined last year 42.76% over the previous year, passing from 143,397 tonnes to 82,076 tonnes. From this last figure, 78,577 tonnes were shipped for export and only 3,499 tonnes were sold for the local market. STPP, sodium tripolyphosphate, is a raw material used mainly in the manufacture of detergents in powder.

The year 2011 was marked by a significant number of forced interruptions of production units following the strikes and social movements in the industrial zone of Gabes and the lack of phosphoric acid. Several renewals and maintenance have been made, namely the replacement of the elevator unit U-600 and the repainting of the entire plant with the breakdown of damaged concrete.

Under pressure from the trade union confederation, the company was forced to abandon the use of subcontracting and embarked on a logic of the entire tenure of the workforce, or 224 workers, over a period of three years.

Despite all the difficulties, Alkimia generated at the end of the year a net profit of 7.467 million dinars, and this mainly due to the significant decline in purchases of supplies consumed going from 129.019 million dinars in 2010 to 94.010 million dinars at the end of 2011.

Ste Chimique Alkimia SA operates a plant in Zone Industrielle de Ghannouch in Gabes, Tunisia, and has a 55% stake in Societe Kimial SPA, based in Annaba, Algeria and a 100% stake in Alkimia Packaging, which is engaged in packaging and marketing of soda ash in Tunisia and North Africa. The main shareholders of the Company are Groupe Chimique Tunisien, with a 39.1% stake and IMER Company, with a 22.12% stake.

Kazakhstan: Kazphosphate upgrades industrial phosphates

Kazphosphate LLC completed last year un upgrade at its purified phosphoric acid plant and has more than doubled the output of acid and sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP), and improved the acid to food quality, opening new markets in the EU where  the product is in great demand. The industrial phosphates factory is located 15 km to north-west from Taraz along the northern slopes of the Ulken-Burul mountain.

The main activities of the Company are exploration works, mining and processing of phosphate rock, production and sales of yellow phosphorus and its derivatives, phosphate fertilizers and fodder phosphates, output of mineral raw material for industrial products. The company’s products are delivered domestically and exported mainly to the European markets, the CIS countries, and to China. They have a reserve of 1.8 billion tonnes of phosphate ore. Their export capabilities are limited by the fact that the nearest port is around 4,000 kilometres away. There is an US$80 million sulphuric acid plant being built adjacent to the fertiliser plant in Taraz, and due to come online in the fourth quarter of this year.

Belgium: Tessenderlo Developed New Potassium Sulphate Formulation

Brussels based Tessenderlo Chemie NV, the world’s second-biggest maker of potash sulphate, has developed a formulation that dissolves three times faster than other potassium sulphate-based products. Introduced by Solufeed, K-Leaf uses it a soluble foliar feed of potassium and sulphur for top fruit and other crops. Tests in several countries have shown significant yield increases from the spray.

Mexico: Innophos published 2011 figures

Leading specialty phosphates producer in North America Innophos Holdings manufactures both detergent and food grade pure phosphoric acid (PPA) at their Mexican Coatzacoalcos facilities through the wet process. Now they have release their last year full results for their specialty phosphates business showing that sales were up 28% for all of 2011 versus 2010, with selling prices and volume each up 14%, supported by record sales levels for the specialty ingredient product ranges manufactured in Mexico. Fourth quarter sales were up an even greater 37%, with prices up 21% and volume up 16% versus the fourth quarter 2010. Their detergent grade PPA is used for making STPP and other personal care products, their food grade PPA is geared to the production of specialty ingredients, purchased by pharmaceutical, food, beverage, oral care, and other industrial applications. Mainly due to environmental constraints, the STPP and detergent grade PPA has been reducing their volume in the latest years, in benefit of an increase of the food and technical grade PPA and the specialty ingredients. The latter are mainly focused in ammonium and potassium phosphates, which are sold globally. Operating income at US$22 million for 2011 was more than double the US$10 million recorded in 2010 on higher volume and selling prices that exceeded cost increases.  Most of this favorable variance occurred in the fourth quarter where US$10 million of operating income was recorded against US$2 million in the fourth quarter 2010. The Mexican Innophos operating income margin increased substantially to 18% for the fourth quarter 2011 compared to 5% for the same period in 2010, and showed good improvement for the year at a 12% overall for 2011 compared to a 7% for the previous year. The Mexican PPA constitutes 35% of all the Innophos output and the Mexican specialty phosphates account for 22% of the whole Innophos portfolio. The world industrial phosphate market is a small but important segment of total phosphate demand and accounts for around 6-8% of the global phosphate consumption. Industrial phosphates are growing faster in developing markets such as Latin America and Asia, where demand for convenience foods and beverages, ready-to-use baking mixes, packaged meat, and seafood products is increasing as a consequence of the increasing number and new habits of the middle class consumers.

Tunisia: Changes in the Phosphate Industry

Given the loss of more than three quarters of its capital, Al Kimia announces that the Extraordinary General Meeting of the Algerian subsidiary, KIMIAL SpA held on 15 and 26 September 2011, decided to dissolve the Company. The company said that given the extended shutdown produced several times by the discontinuation of phosphoric acid supply, the production of 2011 was only 82,675 tons of STPP against a nominal 140,000 tonnes per year.

The Company returns to obtain a concession for the extraction and production of 100,000 tons of sodium sulphate Sebkhat Oum El Khialate Tataouine, an operation of the concession will be made by the new subsidiary “of the Salinas Tataouine “incorporated in August 2011.

One last fact concerns the size of the Company which has grown from 301 agents in 2010 to 525 agents to 31.12.2011 following the recruitment of subcontracting.

European Union: Regulation Limiting Phosphate Use in Detergents

On 10 February 2012, the EU Council adopted formally a regulation that restricts the use of phosphates and other phosphorus compounds in consumer laundry and automatic dishwasher detergents. The regulation is the result of a compromise worked out by the European Parliament and Council, on 9 November 2011, and endorsed by the EP, on 14 December. For consumer laundry detergents, the new limit value is set at 0.5 grams of phosphorus per washing process. It will be applicable from 30 June 2013. The scope of the regulation also includes detergents used in public laundrettes. The regulation also covers detergents for automatic dishwashers, for which the limit value of 0.3 grams of phosphorus in a standard dosage will apply from 1 January 2017. The regulation is limited to domestic washing machines and dishwashers. Industrial detergents and equipment are not included because technically and economically feasible alternatives to the use of phosphates do not currently exist.

Kazakhstan: Faces Threat of European Tariffs on White Phosphorus

The European Union threatened to impose tariffs on white phosphorus from Kazakhstan to limit competition for Dutch producer Thermphos International BV.

The EU opened an inquiry into whether Kazakh manufacturers of the chemical are making dumping by selling it in the 27-nation bloc below cost. White phosphorus is used to make derivatives including chlorides, sulphides and phosphoric acid.

The European Commission, the bloc’s trade authority in Brussels, has nine months to decide whether to impose provisional anti-dumping duties for half a year and EU governments have 15 months to decide whether to apply “definitive” levies for five years. The dumping investigation stems from a Nov. 7 complaint by Thermphos International, which is the EU’s sole producer of white phosphorus, according to the commission.

USA: Tessenderlo will expand its Idaho facility

Brussels based Tessenderlo Group, the world’s second-biggest maker of potash sulphate, will expand its USA facility located at Burley, Idaho, with an adjacent ATS manufacturing plant. Ammonium thiosulphate is a sulphur based specialty fertilizer for broad acre crops, such as hay, corn, potatoes. The American subsidiary is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, operates 10 manufacturing plants, in addition to an extensive terminal network.

Bolivia: China to develop lithium and other mineral resources

Chinese state-run CITIC Guaon Group, has signed an agreement with the Bolivian state company Coipasa to develop lithium and other mineral resources, including potash. The CITIC Guaon Group has agreed to explore the area 300 km south of La Paz close to the Chilean border. Bolivian geologists believe their nation to have more than 70% of the earth’s reserves of lithium. Currently, the main producer is Chile and the United States are the leading consumer of lithium minerals and compounds and the leading producer of value-added lithium materials. Coipasa was established in 2010.

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