August 16, 2016 at 18:31 (Phosphate Fertilizers)
July 31, 2016 at 07:39 (Phosphate Fertilizers)
Despite the weak global fertiliser demand, Russian producer Uralchem, one of the world’s largest ammonia and nitrogen fertilisers producer, is increasing its phosphoric acid production by the end of 2016. The ramp-up is part of the group’s long-term strategy to reinforce existing market share. Following the reopening of its Voskresensk Mineral Fertilizers business, Uralchem quadrupled MAP output in the first half of the year despite the current “complex global market”. Average MAP and DAP (FOB Baltic Sea) prices for the first three months of 2016 were $353/tonne and 366$/tonne, respectively, trailing their first quarter 2015 average prices by 27%for MAP and 25% for DAP.
Tuticorin-based Greenstar Fertilizers (GSFL) acquired its phosphoric acid capacity from SPIC and now they plan to double their 75,000 tonnes per annum nameplate capacity. The revamping program is expected to take 12 to 18 months to be completed. They also plan to create in the next three years an additional 15,000 tonnes ammonia storage facility and a 600,000 tonnes DAP production facility.
India’s current phosphoric acid capacity is slightly over two million tonnes P2O5 and it’s DAP capacity is over 3.5 million tonnes P2O5.
Ammonium phosphates are derived from a reaction of ammonia and phosphoric acid and they are nearly totally used as fertilizers. Less than 3% of the world consumption is used in industrial applications and animal feed. DAP, diammonium phosphate, is the main solid phosphate fertilizer. Its excellent handling properties and N-P-K composition 18-46-0 make it well suited to both large- and small-scale agriculture. The production of one tonne of DAP requires 0.23 tonnes of ammonia and 1,175 tonnes of phosphoric acid 40% P2O5 (0.470 tonnes P2O5). Actually this means that the production of one tonne of DAP requires almost one tonne of the fourth element, sulphur. The DAP trade is the dominant element in the phosphate scene, heavily influencing production and prices, some 35-40% of the global output of phosacid is used in DAP manufacture. More than 40% of the global production of DAP is traded across borders, much more than ammonia, but significantly less than potash. DAP is widely used in bulk blending. The production of 1 tonne MAP, monoammonium phosphate, typically 11-53-0, requires 0.15 tonnes of ammonia and 1.35 tonnes of phosphoric acid 40% P2O5. MAP is produced in both granular and non-granular form, the latter being used in the production of granular NPK and suspension fertilizers.
EuroChem, Russia-based global nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer producer, will in 2015/16 start the construction of a beneficiation plant in the Zhambyl province in southern Kazakhstan. The output will be send to phosphate plants in Southern Russia. As of 2014, the company had a total of 4.2 billion tonnes of phosphate rock reserves and resources and realized capital expenditures of US$ 282 million in phosphates. Kazakhstan has 260 million mt reserves of phosphate rock and produced in the last couple of years some 1.6 million tonnes rock per year. Eurochem plans to produce in the current year over 120,000 mt of finished phosphate. The development in Kazakhstan is strategically important for Eurochem because of the threat that further declines in iron ore price may reduce the phosphate segment economics at the company’s Kovdorskiy GOK.
Israel’s potash maker ICL has promoted a major step forward in the phosphate front. It is forming a j-v with the Chinese leading producer of phosphate rock and fertilizers Yunnan Yuntianhua by an investment of US$ 500 million. The Israelis will receive a 15% ownership of the Chinese company, which in 2013 had sales of 55.87 billion Chinese Renmimbi (US$ 9.02 billion). This was an increase of 465.1% versus 2012, when the company’s sales were 9.89 billion Chinese Renmimbi. The value of the Yunnan company’s phosphate chain accounts for some three quarters of their total gross profit.
The new j-v company will operate an integrated phosphate operation, based on an annual production of some 2.5 million tonnes of phosphate rock during the next 30 years, through the 100% ownership of the Haiko Phosphate Mines Assets. They will have a nameplate annual capacity of 700,000 tonnes of phosacid, 1.85 million tonnes of sulphuric acid, 60,000 tonnes of white phosphoric acid, 65,000 tonnes of speciality phosphates for the food and engineered materials market, and 850,000 tonnes of fertilizers. In this way, ICL will overcome her failure in developing the Barir phosphate field in Arad (Israel) due to environmental objections and secure for decades rock at a more competitive cost. ICL produced last year at its home base in the Negev 3.4 million tonnes rock, of which 946,000 were exported. Her main export market was India, where she sold 318,000 tonnes. Last year ICL also produced 576,000 tonnes of green phosphoric acid, 211,000 tonnes of white phosphoric acid, and 1.7 million tonnes fertilizers.
With the additional Yunnan phosphate capacities, ICL will be a more important mover in the phosphate scene, with some 6 million tonnes phosrock, 1,300 tonnes of phosacid, 350,000 tonnes of purified phosacid, 2.7 million tonnes of fertilizers and nearly 0.9 million tonnes of specialty fertilizers. The j-v will also give ICL new products like, for example, specialty water soluble MAP.
The phosphate rock main market is the production of phosphate fertilizer products such as ammonium phosphates and superphosphates, which accounts for some 90% of the world phosphate rock consumption. Phosphorous plays an important role in root development and in the synthesis of protein, fats and carbohydrates. The rest is consumed as animal feed and in a variety of industrial/technical applications (for phosphoric acid required for detergents and cleaners, food production, metal cleaning, etc.).
Sedimentary deposits provide between 80-90% of the world phosphate rock production, containing francolite–a carbonate-fluorapatite. Francolites with high carbonate for P substitution are the most highly reactive and the most suitable for direct application as fertilizers or soil amendments, but this usage is quite limited and it is estimated that world consumption is less than two million tonnes per annum. Some 10-20% of world phosphate production is mined from igneous deposits. Relative to sedimentary pebble rocks, igneous phosphates have a macrocrystalline structure and are denser and less porous. More than 30 countries produce phosphate rock for commercial purposes, with the top 12 countries supplying over 90% of all the material.
Lower grade rock undergoes a beneficiation process to remove impurities creating an improved quality product with higher phosphate content. The methods employed to beneficiate phosphate rock consist of washing, grinding, flotation (to isolate phosphate bearing ore from certain impurities) and drying. This beneficiation process usually yields a concentration of around 1.5 times, but higher ratios are possible with some rocks. The targeted result of the beneficiation process is a phosphate concentrate ranging from 28% to 35% P2O5.
There is a limited usage of phosphate rock applied directly as a fertilizer. The use of rock phosphate for direct application as fertilizer depends on its level of solubility in the acidic soil. This application is dependent up on the structure and chemical composition of the rock. Mineralogical tests should be done to assess the suitability for direct application. It is stated that carbonate radical is responsible for the reactivity of directly applied P2O5 in the rock.
Sometimes the rock is partially acidulated – called PAPR – a process that converts the insoluble tricalcium phosphate of phosphate rock into a mixture of water-soluble monocalcium phosphate and citrate-soluble dicalcium phosphate. The extent of acidulation depends on factors like the type of acid, acid-rock ratio, temperature, time of reaction, and the proportion of apatite and non-apatite materials in the rock. Different acids have been used and they include phosphoric acid, sulphuric, hydrochloric, nitric, carbonic, oxalic, citric and acetic acids.
The physical characteristics of a rock can sometimes limit its acceptability both for economic and environmental reasons. The hardness of a rock together with the particle size distribution and the type of grinding equipment used will determine the energy used in getting the rock fine enough for the processing stage. Hard rocks and those with angular silica grains increase substantially the wear on grinding equipment. The size distribution of the particles also affects the rock’s handling characteristics. Rocks with too many “fines” will be dusty causing P205 losses and environmental pollution. The water content of concentrates is generally kept above 1.5% to limit dusting and below 2.5% for economic shipping. The pore spacing of the rock also determines its handling characteristics, for instance igneous rock types have few pore spaces and may be saturated with moisture at only 1-2% H20.
The quantity of certain chemicals contained within a rock directly affects its usefulness for the manufacture of phosphoric acid and downstream fertilizers. As well as affecting the process directly, many of these constituents interreact to produce other effects, some beneficial, but mostly detrimental to the reaction. A key factor is the calcium sulphate content of the rock, the remaining CaO level will be directly related to the consumption of sulphuric acid. Seawater washing during rock beneficiation and insufficient freshwater rinsing can be a cause of high and fluctuating Cl levels. As an indication of carbonate levels in the rock, CO2 high values can indicate a tendency to foam during the reaction. Heavy metal content of phosphate products seriously impact the composition of animal feed and food grade products (for example the high cadmium content of the Togolese rock ouput, gravely affects its export possibilities).
Phosphate Rock Production
2012 = About 200 million tonnes rock
China is the biggest world producer of phosphate rock.
There is a historic trend by which the phosphate fertilizer manufacturing goes from areas lacking the raw material, to those who mine it. So it happens that if in the beginning of the seventies trade of phosphate rock neared half of its production, today it is around a tenth.
In world phosphate rock trade, the Moroccan governmental producer OCP (Office Cherifien des Phosphates) is the key player with more than a third of the world exports.
In 2011, the five largest rock importers were India, USA, Indonesia, Belgium and Brazil; in 2012 they were India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil and Poland.
Morocco has about a three quarters of the world phosphate rock reserves, they are the second world producer and the biggest exporter, accounting for more than a third of the world exports.
India is the largest world importer of phosphate rock, and Jordan is its main supplier.
A key indicator for the rock price levels are the DAP price developments:
The above chart uses prices of phosphate rock (Moroccan), 70% BPL, contract, f.a.s. Casablanca, and DAP, bulk, f.o.b. US Gulf.
Giant phosphate producer OCP and Brazilian fertilizer producer Fertilizantes Heringer have entered into a definitive agreement, under which OCP will purchase around a 10 percent stake in Heringer. Under the terms of the deal, Casablanca-based OCP will buy a minimum of 5,385,712 and a maximum of 5,686,316 new common nominative shares, or 9.5-10.5pc, of Heringer’s shares for USD 64.9m. The company’s production capacity increased from 5,7 million tonnes in 2011 to 6 million tonnes in 2013. OCP, the world’s biggest phosphate exporter, is claiming a stake in Brazil to take advantage of booming demand for fertilizers at a time when Mosaic and Yara are also snapping up assets, driving a consolidation in the industry.
Heringer will invest the proceeds gained from this sale in increasing its blending capacity in its key markets. Brazil is expected to supply in the current year some 32,1 million tonnes fertilizers, a volume 3.2% larger than in 2013. Soybean farmers, who buy about a third of the fertilizers used in the country, are expected to grow a record crop this year as Chinese demand for animal feed remains strong.
State-run fertilizer company Petrokimia Gresik plans to open a 200,000 tpa phosphoric acid plant in East Java in the second quarter of the current year.
Construction began in 2010 and the output will be shared in two equal parts by Gresik and by the Jordan Phosphate Mines (JOPH). The plant will have a nameplate capacity of 0.2 million tonnes phosphoric acid per year, 0.8 million tonnes sulphuric acid per year, and 1 million NPK fertilizer per year. The factory will need yearly some 150,000 tonnes of ammonia, 800,000 tonnes of phosphate rock (imported from Jordan), and 270,000 tonnes of sulphur.
Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, consumes some 50,000 tpa of fertilizer nutrients. They are the third largest world producer of paddy rice, following China and India.
Jordan Phosphate Mines Company operates 3 mining facilities in Jordan and a chemical manufacturing complex in Aqaba and they reported sales of USD 1.08 billion for the year ending December of 2012. JPMC produces more than 7 million tonnes of phosphate rock annually, making Jordan the sixth country worldwide in terms of production and the second largest country in terms of export.
Israel’s ICL have signed last September a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the privately owned Vietnamese company Duc Giang, a manufacturer of thermal phosphoric acid (P4). Their aim is phosphate mining and beneficiation in the Bao Thang province in Vietnam. Israel Chemicals was seriously shaken this year after Potash Corp. scrapped a proposed takeover in April and as Uralkali said July 30 it would end the Belarusian joint venture, raising concern of a price war on the potash markets. Last year, ICL had his third consecutive year of growth, with US$7.22 billion in sales. To put this figure in perspective, we can compare it with the US$1.33 billion sales of the Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company for the year ending December of 2012.