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Given the wide range of applications for phosphates, robust demand from countries with growing populations, and complex price movements in regional and global markets, it is important to examine the entire supply chain in detail.

China, Morocco and the USA account for nearly three-quarters of global phosphate production. There are also significant phosphate deposits and mining activity in the Middle East and south Pacific.

The most commonly-traded phosphate fertilizers are DAP (Diammonium Phosphate), MAP (Monoammonium Phosphate), and TSP (Triple superphosphate). Phosphates are also used in animal feed, ceramics, water treatment, cosmetics, anti-corrosives, and detergents. ICIS talks to all market participants and is a global one-stop shop for insight and analysis for all fertilizer products.

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SW '24: US fertilizer demand lacking as farm economics unsupportive

NASHVILLE (ICIS)–Unfavorable farming fundamentals, including weaker grain prices, high cost of credit, and weather issues will continue to hit demand for fertilizers, said market participants on the sidelines of the Southwestern fertilizer conference (14-18 July). Grain prices have slumped to the lowest level since December 2020 as Tropical Storm Beryl was expected to bring rains to the Midwest. This could boost yields at a time when prices are already under downward pressure due to ample availability. "The US farmer is in the worst shape that I have seen in my career, and this is concerning," said a trader with over 15 years of experience. Urea prices in the US are the cheapest in the world right now, as expected for this time of the year due to it being the offseason. Some market players believe prices are low domestically to discourage more imports. Importers may even look at re-exports to Brazil and Latin America if urea prices in New Orleans decline below $290-295/short ton FOB Nola. The level of $290/short ton FOB Nola is equivalent to $360/tonne CFR (cost & freight). For now, the urea level in Nola is in the mid $300s/short ton FOB Nola for July shipment. The phosphates market is getting more attention than urea in the US given the lack of availability for monoammonium phosphate (MAP) due to countervailing duties (CVD) on product arriving from Russia and Morocco. The lack of MAP availability is seeing prices trade at around $120/tonne premium to diammonium phosphate (DAP), when usually the premium is $20/tonne. There is more demand for triple phosphate (TSP) as some players are forced to switch due to the lack of MAP supply. The CVD rate for Russian producer PhosAgro is currently at 28.50%, while for Morocco the process is under review and could result in an increase in CVDs from 2.12% to 14.21% in October/November. Thumbnail shows crops being grown at a farm. Image by Shutterstock.


Metso awarded kiln and cooler package order for Galvani fertilizer plant in Brazil

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Global sustainable technology firm Metso announced it has been awarded  an order by Brazilian producer Galvani Fertilizante to deliver a lime calcination kiln and cooler package for their fertilizer plant in Irece, Brazil. The company said Galvani is taking a significant step at their Irece project by introducing sustainable technological innovation with this new unit expected to produce 350,000 short tons of phosphate concentrate and 600,000 short tons of agricultural limestone annually. Metso will supply a rotary kiln, a rotary cooler and ancillary equipment with the kiln and cooler system a critical part in the process to remove limestone from the phosphate concentrate. The kiln will be the largest lime calciner Metso has ever delivered, measuring almost six meters in diameter and over 140 meters in length. For its part Galvani said the partnership will bring strategic benefits and allow gains in mineral processing at their new unit. “The laying of the foundation stone for this unit, which took place in May of this year, reinforces the importance of this project for the development of the economy of the state of Bahia, in Brazil, and for the generation of jobs and income,” said Marcelo Silvestre, Galvani CEO. “This milestone represents our commitment to innovation and development, boosting our ability to meet the demands of the fertilizer market.”


Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 21 June. Indian phosphates buyers awaiting subsidies clarity from new government The bullish sentiment in the phosphates world continues, as supply in the Americas remains particularly tight, and demand firming. Europe naphtha, gasoline prices push higher despite weak fundamentals Europe naphtha market spot quotations appear to be torn between firming upstream Brent crude values and waning demand-side fundamentals, with weakness in gasoline particularly denting sentiment. New industrial deal needed to enable energy transition – Europe trade groups The EU needs a powerful industrial strategy to deliver the massive expansion in renewable energy required to power energy-intensive sectors which will provide locally made raw materials, according to a coalition of regional trade groups. Europe BDO heading into Q3 with hopes of stability rather than improvement Although the better-than-expected demand during the first half of 2024 would typically give rise to positivity for the European butanediol (BDO) market, players are tempering their predictions to hopes of stability. Downstream restructuring darkens Europe PX outlook despite shipping disruption uplift Paraxylene (PX) demand in Europe is likely to be relatively firm over the summer as seasonal buying appetite couples with stronger offtakes from downstream markets impacted by delayed imports and higher freight costs.


Arianne Phosphate says adding phosphate to critical mineral list acknowledges its importance

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Canadian firm Arianne Phosphate announced that the government of Canada has added phosphate to the country’s critical mineral list, which it said acknowledges the fundamental importance and necessity of this mineral. The criteria for the Canadian critical mineral list are that the mineral is deemed essential to the nation’s economy and security, necessary for a transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy, can be a source for international allies and is a mineral whose supply is threatened. Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson said by updating the list Canada is taking a proactive step for its economy. “Investments in critical mineral projects create good jobs for workers, more avenues for Canadian innovation and lower emissions across the country – all part of our plan to build a cleaner Canada and a prosperous, sustainable economy,” said Wilkinson. Arianne Phosphate has been advancing on its Lac a Paul project in in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region and said it is now fully permitted and shovel ready. It noted that it hosts the largest independent greenfield phosphate deposit where it can produce a very high-purity and low-contaminant phosphate concentrate, ideal for use in both fertilizer and technical-grade applications. This includes the production of purified phosphoric acid which is required for lithium-iron-phosphate batteries. “The addition of phosphate to the critical mineral list not only recognizes the importance of the mineral but, the challenges the west has in securing the necessary supplies,” said Brian Ostroff, Arianne Phosphate president. “We welcome the Canadian government’s decision to add phosphate to its list and, along with the Quebec government’s recent decision to do the same, believe this will be a significant driver for Arianne as we look to conclude our ongoing discussions with potential partners and financiers.” Ostroff said an operating Canadian-based phosphate mine, along with the construction of a downstream purified phosphoric acid facility, would help ease the increasing concern over supply and start to address future needs. Arianne is currently undergoing a prefeasibility study designed to review the potential for constructing a large-scale phosphoric acid plant in the Saguenay region. The facility would be able to convert high-purity igneous phosphate concentrate into a purified phosphoric acid for use in downstream applications. As currently envisioned, the facility would be capable of producing 350,000 tonnes of battery-grade purified phosphoric acid and over 200,000 tonnes of a secondary phosphoric acid for use in specialty fertilizers and animal feeds.


PODCAST: All eyes on India as phosphates and ammonia markets see low demand

LONDON (ICIS)–Phosphates prices have been under pressure in India recently, while demand is expected to revive soon. Meanwhile, a lack of ammonia spot demand globally is weighing on the market. Phosphates editor Chris Vlachopoulos talks to senior editor Sylvia Traganida about the state of the phosphates market ahead of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) annual conference (20-22 May).


TOPIC PAGE: Sustainability in the fertilizers industry

On this topic page, we gather the latest news, analysis and resources, to help you to keep track of developments in the area of sustainability in the fertilizers industry. LATEST NEWS HEADLINES New urea application rules to be implemented in England from 1 April By Deepika Thapliyal 27-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–In England, famers will only be able to apply solid or liquid urea that is treated with an inhibitor from 1 April, according to new regulations from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) that come into force next month. UPM Biochemicals launches new range of bio-based plant stimulants By Sylvia Traganida 27-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–UPM Biochemicals has launched a new range of bio-based plant stimulants which is an alternative to fossil raw materials-based products, the Finnish paper and renewable chemicals firm said on Tuesday. Mabanaft signs letter of intent for supply of green ammonia from Canada By Sylvia Traganida 19-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Germany-headquartered energy firm Mabanaft has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with US-based Pattern Energy for the supply of green ammonia to Mabanaft. Yara Growth Ventures invests in electrolysis technology for low-cost renewable hydrogen By Sylvia Traganida 08-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Norwegian fertilizer major Yara has invested in Danish electrolysis technology company Dynelectro through its corporate venture capital team Yara Growth Ventures. Yara signs agreement with Acme Cleantech subsidiary on green ammonia By Sylvia Traganida 01-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Norwegian fertilizer major Yara has signed an agreement with GHC SAOC for supply of ammonia with reduced carbon emissions from Acme to Yara on a long-term basis. Idemitsu to join US clean ammonia project By Stefan Baumgarten 27-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Idemitsu Kosan has agreed to join a 1.2 million tonne/year clean ammonia project that Mitsubishi Corp and Proman plan to develop at Lake Charles, Louisiana, US, it said on Tuesday. Germany’s Heraeus invests in Japanese ammonia tech company By Stefan Baumgarten 22-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–German technology group Heraeus has invested an undisclosed amount in Tsubame BHB, a Japanese company that has developed a precious metal-based technology for decentralized ammonia production. Malaysia’s PCG, Sarawak Petchem agree to study low-carbon ammonia and urea plant By Nurluqman Suratman 21-Feb-24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Malaysia’s PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) and methanol producer Sarawak Petchem on Wednesday signed an agreement for a joint feasibility study aimed at establishing a low-carbon ammonia and urea production facility in Bintulu, Sarawak. Egypt’s Helwan signs agreement to produce black urea By Deepika Thapliyal 20-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–In Egypt, Helwan has signed an agreement with SML-INNO UK Ltd to set up the world's first vertical integrated unit to produce black urea, with a capacity of 130,000 tonnes annually, the company said today. EU eases climate proposals after widespread farmer protests By Chris Vlachopoulos 07-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Tuesday that the EU has agreed to ease key demands in its climate proposal plans, following intense protests from farmers. Tecnimont awarded engineering contract for Portugal green hydrogen, ammonia plant By Graeme Paterson 05-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Tecnimont has been awarded an engineering contract to develop an integrated green hydrogen and green ammonia plant at Sines, Portugal, its parent company Maire said. EU CARBON BORDER ADJUSTMENT MECHANISM (CBAM) EXPLAINED What is it? The risk of carbon leakage frustrates the EU’s efforts to meet climate objectives. It occurs when companies transfer production to countries that are less strict on emissions, or when EU products are replaced by more carbon-intensive imports. This new mechanism would counteract this risk by putting a carbon price on imports of certain goods from outside of the EU. How will it work? EU importers will buy carbon certificates corresponding to the carbon price that would have been paid, had the goods been produced under the EU's carbon pricing rules. Conversely, once a non-EU producer can show that they have already paid a price for the carbon used in the production of the imported goods, the corresponding cost can be fully deducted for the EU importer. This will help reduce the risk of carbon leakage by encouraging producers in non-EU countries to make their production processes greener. A reporting system will apply from 2023 with the objective of facilitating a smooth roll out and to facilitate dialogue with non-EU countries. Importers will start paying a financial adjustment in 2026. How is the fertilizer industry affected? The fertilizer industry is one of the sectors to fall under the CBAM. The more energy-intensive nitrogen fertilizers will be affected most in the sector by the mechanism. NEW UREA APPLICATION NORMS IN ENGLAND The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has imposed new regulations on urea application in England. Famers will only be able to apply solid or liquid urea that is treated with an inhibitor from 1 April. The move is aimed to reduce ammonia emissions, and would increase costs for farmers by an estimated £40/tonne. The new rules apply to any fertilizer that contains 1% or more of urea nitrogen, with applications of solid urea or liquid (urea ammonium nitrate) fertilizer from 1 April having to include a urease inhibitor Untreated solid urea or liquid UAN fertilizer can be applied between 15 January to 31 March each year. Untreated liquid UAN fertiliser can be applied after 1 April if agronomic justification is provided by a certified fertilizers advisor, mentioning ammonia losses will be at or below the level of when a urease inhibitor is included. Foliar urea applications targeting the crop, using normal spray nozzles do not require a urease inhibitor. The implementation of the Defra regulations was delayed by two years due to higher fertilizer prices and lack of supply following the covid pandemic and the Ukraine war. PREVIOUS  NEWS HEADLINES EU proposes relaxation in policy following farmer protests Biden Administration invests $207m in domestic fertilizer and clean energy endeavours Brazil’s state of Ceara, Bp sign MoU for green hydrogen site  Atome Energy in talks with buyers for green fertilizer from Paraguay unit Sweden's Cinis targets Asia potash market with Itochu partnership Helwan selects Eurotecnica's Euromel G5 technology for new melamine facility in Egypt India’s Adani Group plans $24bn green energy park; RIL to commission giga complex INPEX and LSB pick technology for US ammonia project Bayer partners with energy firms on hydrogen cluster in Germany S Korean group picks KBR tech for Malaysian green ammonia project Abu Qir signs MoU for green ammonia project in Egypt Yara aims to launch first container ship to run off clean ammonia India’s Odisha state approves green hydrogen, ammonia, methanol projects ADM announces launch of regenerative agriculture program in Brazil Fertiglobe completes first renewable ammonia shipment with carbon certification Allied Green Ammonia picks Topsoe’s tech for Australia project Germany’s VNG looks to secure offtake from Norwegian low carbon ammonia plant Gentari enters into agreement with AM Green to invest into a green ammonia delivery platform ITOCHU Corporation, Orascom Construction sign MOU for development of ammonia bunkering in Suez Canal India developing port infrastructure for green hydrogen exports S Korea, Saudi Arabia firms sign 46 pacts, includes blue ammonia project INSIGHT: CBAM reporting begins, fertilizer exporters to EU challenged to account for carbon KBR to supply green ammonia tech to Madoqua Power2X site in Portugal Germany’s SOM to build green hydrogen, ammonia facility in Brazil’s Piaui state US ADM and Syngenta sign MoU to collaborate on low carbon oilseeds to meet biofuel demand Tecnicas Reunidas, Allied Green Ammonia to build green hydrogen and green ammonia plant in Australia Australian fertilizer producer Orica accelerates climate change targets Nestle, Cargill and CCm Technologies launch joint UK trial on sustainable fertilizer EnBW acquires stake in planned Norwegian ammonia plant  Yara Germany signs agreement for decarbonisation of cereal cultivation using green fertilizers Hyphen, ITOCHU ink MoU to explore potential Namibia hydrogen collaboration  INSIGHT: BASF grapples with demand trough, slow road back SABIC AN ships low-carbon urea to New Zealand US Cargill and John Deere collaborate to enable revenue for farmers adopting sustainability Canada’s Lucent Bio announces approval of biodegradable nutrient delivery patent Aker, Statkraft’s 10-year PPA to spur European renewable ammonia push further BASF, Yara Clean Ammonia to evaluate low-carbon blue ammonia production facility in US Gulf Coast Yara Clean Ammonia, Cepsa to launch clean hydrogen maritime corridor EU details CBAM reporting obligations Saudi Arabia’s Ma’aden exports its first low-carbon blue ammonia shipments to China US Bunge and Nutrien Ag announce alliance to support sustainable farming practices Maire subsidiary Stamicarbon wins US green ammonia engineering contract India’s IFFCO launches liquid nano-DAP fertilizer EU Parliament backs CBAM, emissions trading measures OCP granted €100m green loan to build solar plants at Morocco facilities EU unveils plans to tackle greenwashing India’s IFFCO and CIL to manufacture nano DAP for three years USDA awards Ostara funds to boost sustainable phosphate fertilizer output Canadian prime minister confirms fertilizer emission goal is voluntary US fertilizers industry increases carbon capture in 2021 – TFI Indian president calls for reduction in chemical fertilizer use IFFCO plans to export nano urea to 25 countries Amman selects Elessent Clean Technologies for Indonesia sulphuric acid plant Lotte Chemical forms clean ammonia consultative body with RWE and Mitsubishi Corporation Global 2020-2021 specialty fertilizer demand growth led by north America, Asia BASF and Cargill extend enzymes business and distribution to US Saudi Aramco awards sulphur facilities overhaul contract to Technip India sets green hydrogen targets for shipping, oil & gas, fertilizer sectors Germany misses climate target despite lower energy consumption TFI reacts to US Congress passing the Water Resources Development ActHelm becomes a shareholder in UK bio-fertilizer company Unium Bioscience Yara inks deal to deliver fossil-free green fertilizers to Argentina Canadian firms plan fuel cell generator pilot using green ammonia Deepak Fertilizers awards contract to reduce emissions, increase productivity Saudi Aramco launches $1.5bn sustainability fund to support net zero ambition CF Industries and ExxonMobil plan CCS project in Louisiana Canada’s plan to cut fertilizer emissions is voluntary – minister Canada’s fertilizer emission goal raises food production concerns Uniper, Vesta to cooperate on renewable ammonia site in the Netherlands German Uniper to work with Japan’s JERA on US clean ammonia projects ADNOC ships first cargo of low-carbon ammonia to Germany US Mosaic and BioConsortia expand collaboration to microbial biostimulant IMO deems Mediterranean Sea area for sulphur oxides emissions control Canada's Soilgenic launches new enhanced efficiency fertilizers technology for retail Austria's Borealis aims to produce 1.8m tonnes/year of circular products by 2030 European Parliament rejects proposed carbon market reform IFA ’22: southern Africa looks to bio-fertilizer as cheaper, sustainable option IFA '22: Indian farmers will struggle to embrace specialty fertilizers – producer Canadian Nutrien plans to build world’s largest clean ammonia facility in Louisiana Japan's JGC Holdings awards green ammonia plant contract to KBR Bayer to partner with Ginkgo to produce sustainable fertilizers Australia Orica and H2U Group partner on Gladstone green ammonia project Canada sets tax credit of up to 60% for carbon capture projects UK delays urea restrictions to support farmers as fertilizer costs at record high EU states agree to back carbon border tax Yara to develop novel green fertilizer from recycled nutrients USDA announces plans for $250m grant programme to support American-made fertilizer Canada seeks guidance to achieve fertilizer emissions target Fertilizer titan Pupuk Indonesia develops hydrogen/blue ammonia business India launches green hydrogen/ammonia policy, targets exports Canada AmmPower to develop green hydrogen and ammonia facility in Louisiana US DOE awards grant to project to recover rare earth elements from phosphate production Fertiglobe, Masdar, Engie to develop green hydrogen for ammonia production Czech Republic’s Spolana enhances granular AS production India’s Reliance to invest $80bn in green energy projects Yara, Sweden’s Lantmannen aim to commercialise green ammonia by 2023 Novatek and Uniper target Russia to Germany blue-ammonia supply chain Fertz giant Yara goes green with electrification of Norwegian factoryCanada Arianne Phosphate exploring use of phosphate for hydrogen technology FAO and IFA renew MoU to promote sustainable fertilizer use Sumitomo Chemical, Yara to explore clean ammonia collaboration Sri Lanka revokes ban on imports Tokyo scientists convert bioplastic into nitrogen fertilizer Aramco plans Saudi green hydrogen, ammonia project China announces action plan for carbon peaking & neutrality Saudi Aramco targets net zero emissions from operations by 2050 Fertiglobe goes green with Red Sea zero-carbon ammonia pro Australian fertilizer major Incitec Pivot teams up for green ammonia study INTERVIEW: BASF to scale up new decarbonisation tech in second half of decade – CEO India asks fertilizer companies to speed up production of nano DAP Japan's Itochu set to receive first cargo of blue ammonia for fertilizer use Norway's Yara acquires recycled fertilizers maker Ecolan Bayer Funds US start-up aims to cut nitrogen fertilizer use by 30% BP: Green ammonia production in Australia feasible, but needs huge investment Origin and MOL explore shipping green ammonia from Australia India’s IFFCO seeks to export nano urea fertilizer Sri Lanka reinstates ban on import of chemical fertilizers Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030 RESOURCES IFA – Fertilizers and climate change  TFI – Sustainability report 


INSIGHT: After boom and bust, global potash strives for stability

LONDON (ICIS)–Three of the world’s largest muriate of potash (MOP) fertilizer majors recorded considerable financial losses year-on-year in 2023, as a panic-driven price boom of 2022 led to a bust last year – although signs of stability have given rise to hopes for a more 'normal' year ahead. The global MOP market trades around 70 million tonnes annually – making it the largest-volume fertilizer sold on the planet – and has undergone complete upheaval in the past three years. Potash is an umbrella term for a number of potassium-based powdered or granulated fertilizers produced in only 13 nations worldwide; with a total yearly production above 90m tonnes. This limited number of sources explains why export sanctions first levelled in mid-2021 on Belarus – the world’s second-largest producer of MOP – quickly snowballed into an avalanche of change which has since swept across the traditionally sedate global potash trade. POLITICAL RAMIFICATIONSIn May 2021 Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko ordered the grounding of EasyJet flight 4978 as it passed over his territory – ostensibly because of a bomb threat – before removing dissident blogger Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega from the aircraft. Western powers were quick to condemn the move and in coming months imposed sanctions on the money-spinning Belarusian MOP export industry, as well as a wide variety of other export goods and named Belarusian executives profiting under Lukashenko’s regime. The largest issue thrown up by the sanctions was the dissolution of state-run MOP marketing arm Belarusian Potash Company’s (BPC) longstanding agreement with the port of Klaipeda, Lithuania – the MOP major’s primary export hub for global trading – and Lithuanian Railways, which handled trans-shipment. The sanctions therefore effectively cut off landlocked Belarus’ MOP from the global marketplace – including the key MOP-consuming nations of India, China and Brazil. With Belarus neutered in the global marketplace, that left Canada and Russia as the two largest producers of MOP – albeit briefly – as in February 2022 the opening shots of the invasion of Ukraine quickly drew global condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime. Initially potash exports were not targeted under the sanctions, although concerns continued to mount that sanctions placed on the nation by Western powers could make trading with Russia increasingly difficult, notably because of restrictions on bank transactions. Russian MOP exports declined steadily, and in October 2022 the European Commission's list of products sanctioned for export from Russia to the EU was extended to include phosphate fertilizers, alongside MOP, nitrates, and nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK) blends. Although the sanctions stopped short of banning imports of Russian MOP into Europe entirely, the volume of tonnes declined rapidly. 2022: BOOMThe abrupt absence of much of Belarus’ MOP on the global market – and a decrease in Russian export volumes – led to a period of panic-buying in H1 2022, as importers and farmers rushed to secure tonnes ahead of their crops’ respective application period. Prices in the key Brazilian import market climbed to $1,250/tonne CFR (cost and freight) by April 2022 – the highest ever recorded by ICIS – and southeast Asia saw offers for both standard- and granular-grade MOP more than triple between June 2021 and June 2022 to $1,125/tonne and $1,200/tonne CFR, respectively. Other importers – shocked into inaction by the abrupt spike in offer prices and confident they were not sustainable – instead opted to skip that year’s application entirely; relying on the volume of potassium already in the ground to support their crops’ health without a fresh application. 2023: BUSTThroughout 2023 supply issues stemming from sanctions on Belarus MOP exports alongside businesses supporting Russia’s potash exports, were slowly side-stepped as new routes to market were unearthed. Belarusian MOP made its way to the global market via Russia’s ports and using rail networks into China and southeast Asia in vast volumes. Although the volume of Belarusian MOP exported to destinations other than China and southeast Asia was limited, Belarusian potash was shipped into Brazil in large volumes – which had an impact on landing prices for granular MOP. Russian MOP also started moving steadily after buyers found alternative routes to fund purchases outside of sanctioned banks and other financial institutions. The precise volumes both Russia and Belarus have managed to export is unclear, however, as the nations ceased reporting customs statistics shortly after the latter’s invasion of Ukraine. Combined with increased exports from other players keen to capitalise on Russia and Belarus’ absence, along with weak demand following the great panic of 2022 and buyers’ expectations of lower offers to come, major MOP players’ 2023 financial results were uniformly and unsurprisingly negative. BACK TO NORMALITY?Leading the 2023 results parade was the world’s largest MOP-exporting nation, Canada, where the largest supplier in the world, Nutrien, recorded an 83% slump in net earnings for 2023 year-on-year. US and Canadian major Mosaic followed, with a 72% year-on-year decline in operating earnings, and then Israel Chemicals (ICL), which logged a 68% fall in operating income. Nutrien 2023 consolidated results ($m) 2023 2022 Change (%) Sales 29,056 37,884 -23 Net earnings 1,282 7,687 -83 EBITDA 6,058 12,170 -50 ICL 2023 consolidated results ($m) Sales 7,536 10,015 -25 Operating income 1,141 3,516 -68 Adujsted EBITDA 1,754 4,007 -56 Mosaic sales and operating earnings 2023 ($m) Net sales 13,696.10 19,125.20 -28 Operating earnings 1,338.10 4,785.30 -72 *EBITDA: Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation However, all three firms remain upbeat on prospects for potash in the year ahead, despite the outwardly costly 2023 decline in earnings. Mosaic expects strong demand from North America, southeast Asia and Brazil, and increasing stability of supply globally. Nutrien estimates that full-year global shipments from all sources topped 67m-68m tonnes for 2023, supported by strong consumption in North America, China, and Brazil. For 2024, the Canadian major is projecting 68m-71m tonnes traded, with a gradual increase in availability from Russia, Belarus, and Laos – more than a return to the pre-sanctions 69m tonnes traded of 2020. Russia and Belarus continue to increase exports to nations which shun concerns for Western sanctions – notably China, which is receiving large-volume cross-border imports via rail; leaving some MOP players to ponder if Beijing will open talks for the traditional bellwether 2024 import contract at all. Meanwhile, Potash demand is expected to increase notably in southeast Asia across 2024 on low inventory levels, after buyers stepped back from the market in 2023 following 2022’s vast spike in offer prices. So far, in Q1 2024 offers at key bellwether destinations including southeast Asia and Brazil have been stable to weak – although the tide is turning as producers are confident a bottom has been reached and the market will move up as seasonal demand returns – albeit to a more 'normal. level than that seen in 2022’s boom year. “This is the year of trade flow change – and maybe of stability,” concluded one large-volume MOP trader. Insight by Andy Hemphill


PODCAST: Phosphates, ammonia markets on standby due to low demand

LONDON (ICIS)–As the phosphoric acid settlement for Q1 is announced and India is eagerly awaiting further details on government subsidies, phosphates markets editor Chris Vlachopoulos and ammonia senior editor Sylvia Traganida discuss developments in their respective markets. They talk about demand, recent developments, and provide insight on the possible ways forward for both markets.


South Africa phosphates producer Kropz achieves first full year of sales

LONDON (ICIS)–Kropz sold 262,703 tonnes of phosphate concentrate from its South Africa Elandsfontein project in 2023, the emerging producer’s first full year of sales. The firm made its first bulk sale from Elandsfontein in January last year following a series of delays in ramping-up production. “The company remains committed to growing its sales pipeline and has already scheduled sales to take place in Q1 2024,” it said in statement. The Elandsfontein project is located on the west coast of South Africa, approximately 95km (59 miles) north-northwest of Cape Town. It is being planned to deliver more than 1m tonnes/year of phosphate rock.


US fertilizer market tepid amid severe winter conditions, but spring prospects stay positive

HOUSTON (ICIS)–In the US, the domestic fertilizer market is again showing tepid inclinations as barge and terminal demand is retreated, as there is renewed severe winter weather and corn prices have declined far enough to create more hesitancy from farmers on additional nutrient commitments. Within the New Orleans (Nola) urea market, participants are finding barge interests are again diminished to start this week’s trading with part of the lag due to the national holiday on Monday, but with little fresh interest emerging. There were a fair number of bids seen for January and February shipments, but sellers are seen as separately pulling back right now. The last barges concluded for shipping this month were done between $315-316/short ton FOB (free on board) on 12 January with the boost in values owing some of their lift to the recent India tender. For now, the market is awaiting spring demand to build further but that will have to likely wait a bit longer because after a mostly moderate winter, weather has turned difficult, with weather systems across the US having brought extreme cold as well as snow and ice across many states. This is keeping farmers halted on any activity for spring, which has caused additional demand to momentarily sag. For the urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) market, a slower pace of movement has unfolded to start the year, with it likely staying reduced until the start of plantings as most farming activities are paused for a few more weeks because of the ongoing weather. Currently, UAN values on barges and terminal volumes are not fluctuating like other nitrogen products have experienced, and there remains solid market expectations of a robust spring upcoming. The only fundamental change during January is that future crop prices have come under renewed pressure, which could impact upcoming nutrient buying, while at the same time prices for the forward months on other fertilizer products have lifted. There are some thoughts that UAN consumption could gain an advantage if those factors persist as supply is well-positioned, additional availability remains favorable and prices have shown stability. The possibility of lower crops prices could cause some growers to become more conservative on expenditures and look for lower-cost nutrient options with UAN a viable choice in many areas. With the weather pressures, most ammonia activity has stayed reduced for several weeks following a robust post-harvest application run, which to some is an early indicator that corn will gain a sizeable share of the plantings in the coming weeks. Despite the lag in fresh movement, overall ammonia values are holding stable against the backdrop of expectations of a good season ahead. If market conditions stay, it is possible ammonia could benefit from prices on other products climbing higher with supply well-positioned and offering growers a more positive crop ratio for the coming year. Looking at phosphates, the market is seeing that demand has recently been steady even after an active post-harvest period and there are some expectations that spring buying will initially be strong despite the significant restocking. Though for now, demand could dip over the rest of January until the cold temperatures and further snow leave, but overall values are showing solid strength ahead of the arrival of spring. Potash is another market that has been stable even during the winter downturn, with values steady amid projections that upcoming crop needs will be a tad stronger. This is based mostly on anticipations that there will be an uptick in acreage, especially for corn. Expectations are producers will run at rates like 2023 with producer Nutrien having recently unveiled its winter refill offerings at $385/short ton from Midwest terminals. The Canadian major is taking orders at the set price for Q1 delivery until 19 January, and at a $30/short ton increase for Q2 arrival. Nutrien said there has been a positive initial response as it is seeing customers optimistic about a strong spring application season. After seeing challenges for potash flow due to production and logistic impediments last year, it appears as if those issues have been resolved except for the low water levels on the US river system, especially the vital Mississippi river. Recent rainfall has been viewed as beneficial for lifting some of the river water levels and has been positive for upcoming sowings, especially within the states that have faced drought. Those areas need an adequate soil moisture recharge from either snow melting soon or the rain yet to come, as these two factors could both total plantings and subsequent fertilizer consumption. Moist ground will also lead to more runoff into the river systems in the coming weeks, which would help alleviate some of the issues with navigation including longer transit and reduced load size. For now, market participants are watching what is hoped to be the strongest hit of winter pass quickly with a relatively firm sentiment of a strong season left intact, and that as the US moves closer to the prime stretch of March-April that demand will be significant. Although the last corn crop production came in higher than projected at 15.3 billion bushels, there are strong views in both agriculture and fertilizer markets that sowings could climb even further this spring even with future prices having dropped below $5.00/bushel recently. Acreage decisions should begin to be finalized over the next few weeks which will help propel the market forward as further nutrient decisions will then follow.


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Build your networks and grow your business at ICIS’ industry-leading events. Hear from high-profile speakers on the issues, technologies and trends driving commodity markets.


Keep up to date in today’s dynamic commodity markets with expert online and in-person training covering chemicals, fertilizers and energy markets.

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Partnering with ICIS unlocks a vision of a future you can trust and achieve. Architect a sustainable future with a transparent, reliable view of supply chain emissions and recycled plastics. We leverage our unrivalled network of industry experts to deliver a comprehensive market view based on trusted data, insight and analytics, supporting our partners as they transact today and plan for tomorrow. Get in touch today to find out more.

Get in touch today to find out more.