Tunisia's phosphates industry stays shut, new president elected

13 December 2011 12:58  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Shutdowns at state-owned Group Chimique Tunisien’s (GCT) phosphate fertilizer facilities have continued as parliament elected the country’s new president, a company official said on Tuesday.

The diammonium phosphate (DAP) and triple super phosphate (TSP) producing plants at Gabes, M’Dhilla and Skhira remain closed due to union protests.

The civil unrest that has dogged the country since January’s revolution erupted again when the newly-elected government met for the first time on 21 November.

Union demonstrations calling for more jobs to ease high rates of unemployment have closed the ports and disrupted supplies of phosphate rock from the mines to the plants.

Although GCT is not expected to have any product to offer before the end of the year, the political situation should move towards a resolution as the new government settles in.

“Today is a benchmark, as the new president is elected and this may help with stability,” said the official.

Moncef Marzouki, a former human rights activist and opposition leader, has been voted president by the Constituent Assembly.

European market sources agree production of Tunisian phosphate fertilizers could resume in the next three weeks and that GCT could sell product for January loading.

However, a firm restart schedule is not possible at this time due to the unpredictability of the civil unrest.

Annual production capacity for GCT’s main facility at Gabes is 1.3m tonnes of 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.

By: Karen Thomas
+44 208 652 3214

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