IFA ’12: Tunisian phosphate production restart on the cards in June

22 May 2012 08:19  [Source: ICIS news]

By Karen Thomas

Phosphate rock is a key raw material used in the production of fertilizersDOHA, Qatar (ICIS)--A June restart to North African phosphate fertilizer production by Groupe Chimique Tunisien (GCT) is on the cards, as civilian protests over employment look set to be resolved, company sources said on Tuesday.

Diammonium phosphate (DAP) production at the Gabes plant and M’Dhilla’s triple super phosphate (TSP) output stopped at the end of last month due to erratic supply of raw material phosphate rock, the sources said on the sidelines of the Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) conference.

Operations were brought to a standstill after demonstrations against the state-owned company broke out in the Gafsa phosphate rock mining region.

GCT’s recruitment drive to employ 4,000 new employees to its mining operations attracted 28,000 applicants. Unsuccessful candidates took to the streets claiming biased practice and three days of violence ensued during the last weekend of April.

Tunisian product has since been largely absent from the market and doubts have been cast over GCT’s June availability of DAP and TSP.

Sources say the phosphate rock mines and ammonium nitrate production is currently running at 40% of capacity but DAP and TSP production remains down.

However, GCT confirmed phosphate rock supplies are being delivered to the plants and the producer is targeting a return to 70% of capacity next month.

Last DAP business was to Turkey at $580-590/tonne (€452-460/tonne) FOB (free on board) at the beginning of May sourcing first quarter stocks.

Turkish buyers have indicated that they will wait to source DAP from their traditional supplier, as demand for a short spring application emerges.

Annual production capacity at the main facility at Gabes is 1.3m tonnes of DAP when operating at full rates.

Interruptions to the supply of phosphate rock throughout last year after the revolution in January 2011 have periodically forced GCT to shut down operations.

The IFA conference runs from 20-23 May.

($1 = €0.78)

For more information on phosphates and other fertilizers, please visit icis pricing fertilizers
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By: Karen Thomas
+44 208 652 3214



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