Russia: Uralchem increased phosphate processing

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.

Fertilizer Prices


India: Greenstar Fertilizers will double its phosphoric acid capacity

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.

Mineral Production Used by the Fertilizer Industry





Potash Fertilizers Snapshot

Potassium is an essential plant nutrient and an essential nutritional requirement for both humans and animals, for which there is no effective substitute. Potassium is used to make fertilizer, biofuels, gunpowder, and various industrial chemicals. About ninety percent of potash is used for fertilizer manufacture. Potassium Chloride (KCl) is the most common source of potassium. The mineral plays a vital role in crop growth and helps plants resist cold and drought. Due to its high chlorine content, MOP is widely used in chlorine resistant crops such as wheat, rice, soya, maize, and pastures.

Potassium intake is also important in animal nutrition and milk production.

Potassium sulphate and potassium nitrate are the main non-chloride K fertilizers.



Potash reserves are concentrated in just a few areas: major producing regions include the FSU, North America, Germany, and the Dead Sea area.



k_production 2014

Compared with other fertilizer nutrients, the potash industry is much consolidated, with Canada, Russia, Belarus and Germany accounting for more than 3/4 of world production. There are about twelve large potash manufacturers, most of them non-governmental owned.



         Source: Agrium Fact Book 2014-2015


Potash changes are driven mainly by the demand of the global fertilizer industry, in particular the Indian and the Chinese one, but also by the growth of the agrofuel production. The key crops influencing the potash price are first of all corn, and then soybeans and rice.


Potash Production Process



Fertilizer Prices


Urea Fertilizers Snapshot

Urea, N-P-K composition 46-0-0, is the most commonly produced and widely traded nitrogen product. It is estimated that 90 percent is used as fertilizer and the rest for industrial purposes. Synthesized from ammonia and carbon dioxide (CO2), urea is the only primary nitrogen product chemically classified as organic (because of its carbon content). Nitrogen is the most crucial and major nutrient element in plant growth. It is abundant in nature and enhances better yields.  Because urea is produced from ammonia and carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of ammonia production, all urea plants are located adjacent to or in proximity to an ammonia plant.



China and India account for more than a half of urea output (as well as capacity), however, these two countries are the largest urea consumers, over half of it. In 2013, 44 percent of the urea fertilizer was consumed in East Asia, followed by South Asia, which took nearly a quarter of the product.





Urea, (Black Sea), bulk, spot,  f.o.b. Black Sea (primarily Yuzhnyy) beginning July 1991; for 1985-91 (June) f.o.b. Eastern Europe

Wheat (US), no. 1, hard red winter, ordinary protein, export price delivered at the US Gulf port for prompt or 30 days shipment

Kenya: New NPK factory

A new fertilizer factory was commissioned in the Eldoret town, Rift Valley Province in Kenya. The $1 billion factory will have an annual nameplate capacity of 150,000 metric tonnes of NPK and is expected to manufacture its first bag of fertilizer mid 2016. It is being set up by the Toyota Tsusho East Africa. World NPK capacity is estimated in some 100,000-120,000 tonnes product, and the main African producer is Egypt.

Ammonium Phosphates Snapshot

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.

ap01    ap02







Sulphur Market Overview

Sulphur is a key raw material for the fertilizer industry and its single largest end use is in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers in the form of sulphuric acid. Sulphur is also used in the production of carbon disulphide, sulphur dioxide and phosphorous pentasulphide; pulp and paper uses; and rubber vulcanizing. Agronomically, sulphur is an essential element in forming protein, vitamins, enzymes, and chlorophyll in plants, and nodule development in legumes. It has been called the “fourth nutrient” and in 2014 China was its main consumer, followed by the United States.

World sulphuric acid supply is of some 250 Mt H2SO4, and it is produced from sulphur, oxygen and water via the contact process. The major growth drivers for sulphuric acid are the global consumption of phosphoric acid, titanium dioxide, hydrofluoric acid, ammonium sulfate manufacture, and for uranium processing and metallurgical applications.

S - Production


Crops have different sulphur sensitivities: alfalfa, canola, and clover are very responsive to sulphur, while cereal crops such as wheat and corn are less responsive.

Soil with less than one percent organic matter is prone to sulphur deficiencies; soil with greater than 5 % organic matter is usually unresponsive to sulphur. Sulphur deficiency is usually seen when the soil has less than 10 ppm of soluble sulphur, and it has a retarding effect on plant growth.

Elemental sulphur has at least 85% S, and there are different types of fertilizers also containing sulphur: ammonium sulphate has some 24% S, ammonium thiosulphate 26%, SSP 12%, magnesium sulphate 14%, potassium sulphate 18%, potassium thiosulphate 17%, sulphur coated urea 10% S. Elemental sulphur is also used as a pesticide or fungicide.

Sulphur is commonly incorporated to both granular compound fertilizers and bulk-blended fertilizers in the form of AS, SSP, or calcium phosphate. Most of the fertilizer sulphur applied to soils comes from sulphate-containing fertilizers. But the most concentrated sulphur carriers are the fertilizers containing elemental sulphur.

Many NPK formulations contain sulphur, but the amount has decreased with the trend towards higher analysis fertilizers.

Plant requirements for sulphur are equal to or exceed those for phosphorus. It is one of the major nutrients essential for plant growth, root nodule formation of legumes and plants protection mechanisms. Sulphur application rates in typical fertilization practices usually range from 5 to 20 pounds of sulphur per acre.

For the production of 1 tonne of 100% H2SO4 sulphuric acid, they are required 0.33 tonnes of sulphur (or 0.76 tonnes pyrites 48% S).


Most of the sulphur production comes from the processing of fossil fuels, sulphur mined in its elemental form has declined over the last decade to less than two percent of world production.

Iron pyrites (FeS2) have typically 40-53% S, pyrrhotite minerals (Fe6S7) 40%, gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) 19%, and anhydrite (CaSO4) 24%.

Around 90% of the global sulphur production is by-product and only some 10% is elective. The largest producers are China and the United States, followed by Russia and Canada.

S - Top S Producers

S - Top S Exp

S - Top S Imp

The sulphur trade is dominated by the imports to China.

S - China Imp

In 2014 China imported some 10.2 million tonnes S and the main suppliers were West Asia, eastern Europa and Central Asia, Japan, Canada, and the United States.

The Chinese sulphur imports are mainly geared to the southwestern provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, and Guizhou, mostly for usage in the compound phosphate fertilizer factories. The majority of the Chinese sulfacid manufacturers are small producers. The pyrite process accounted for some 80% in the mid-nineties, but its proportion has been decreasing steadily since then, being less than half in the early current decade.

S - Prices


Resources of elemental sulphur in evaporite and volcanic deposits and sulphur associated with natural gas, petroleum, tar sands, and metal sulfides amount to about five billion tonnes. The main sulphur reserves are located in Canada, the United States, Poland, Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Spain, Italy, France, Japan, and others. The sulphur in gypsum and anhydrite is almost limitless, and some 600 billion tonnes of sulphur is contained in coal, oil shales, and shale rich in organic matter, tar sands, but low-cost methods have not been developed to recover sulphur from these sources. The domestic sulphur resource is about one-fifth of the world total. Sulphur supplies should be adequate for the foreseeable future.

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