Union protests shutdown Tunisian phosphates industry to year end

25 November 2011 13:11  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Shutdowns at state-owned Group Chimique Tunisien’s (GCT) phosphate fertilizer facilities have spread beyond plants to mines and ports, the company said on Friday.

The producer has been experiencing sporadic disruptions due to strikes since the revolution in January and could be out of the market until the end of the year.

Union protests calling for more jobs to ease high rates of unemployment at the beginning of the week blockaded GCT’s Gabes and Skhira production plants.

Ongoing demonstrations have triggered further shutdowns at M’Dhilla – which produces 465,000 tonnes of Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) each year – and at phosphate rock mines and Gabes port.

“The situation has not improved,” said GCT.

“Production has stopped completely because the phosphate rock supplies have stopped. Ports are also closed,” it added.

Market sources said that vessels at Gabes port are still waiting to be loaded with phosphate fertilizer cargoes and shipments of contract supplies unable to depart.

“There will probably be no exports until the end of the year. There is no strong government or police to stop these protests,” one source said.

Citing the unpredictability of civil unrest, GCT added that it could not comment on when the plants, mines and ports would re-open.

Annual production capacity for the Gabes facility is 1.3m tonnes of diammonium phosphate (DAP) and 405,000 tonnes of 54% merchant grade phosphoric acid when operating at full rates.

The protests have also disrupted production at the new Tunisian Indian Fertilizers (TIFERT) joint venture at Skhira.

The project is run by the Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa (CPG) and GCT and was scheduled to produce 360,000 tonnes/year of merchant grade phosphoric acid from April 2012.

The newly-elected government assembly met on Monday 21 November to draw up a constitution for the country after the revolution in January toppled 24 years of a dictatorship.

The movement, which became known as the Arab Spring, ignited subsequent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

By: Karen Thomas
+44 208 652 3214

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.

Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.

Printer Friendly