GCT Tunisia stops phosphate production due to strike action

02 February 2011 17:14  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Tunisian phosphate fertilizer producer Groupe Chimique Tunisien (GCT) is widely reported to have stopped all of its production and mining facilities due to strike action by employees demanding improved pay and conditions, trader sources said on Wednesday.

There was talk among market sources that GCT had declared force majeure. Although no-one from the group was available to confirm this.

GCT had been earlier reported to have encountered production and raw material supply problems due to the political turmoil in the country.

GCT had said earlier that it planned to produce 90,000 tonnes of diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilizer in January rather than the usual 110,000 tonnes, due to planned technical repairs on a DAP line which meant that the group was temporarily producing on only one line.

These repairs had been completed and reported production issues were not due to the political unrest in the country, sources said.

Subsequently, sources added that there had been problems associated with railing phosphate rock to production sites (phosphate rock is a key raw material in DAP production).

One cargo of DAP bound for Italy had been delayed, but an Italian importer said it understood that the cargo would load as planned this week.

However, another trader said: “GCT’s output is shut down for sure – 100% certain.”

The news comes at a time when the international DAP market was already tight with most producers committed through February. GCT was the only producer with any significant tonnage to sell for February and its absence would further tighten the supply side.

GCT is a major phosphate producer of phosphate rock, phosphoric acid, DAP and triple superphosphate (TSP). Other producers include the US, Morocco and Russia.

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By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214

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