The changing world of phosphate rock

With high grade reserves of phosphate rock gradually depleting around the world, the average quality of phosphate rock produced has plummeted dramatically. Argus FMB has produced a strategy report which highlights the repercussions. The report is titlted "World Phosphate Rock Outlook to 2029.

Poorer ore continues to be mined and the content of P205 falls, while the content of unwelcome components increases.

By far the most obvious consequence has been the leap in related costs to mine and process it for fertilizer and manufacturing phosphoric acid. There are substantial resources of phosphate-containing minerals remaining, but they lay untapped due to high costs.

Any constraint on the supply of phosphate will be determined not by resource availability, but by the cost of exploration, the conversion into plant available P205 and by the delivery to the market, according to the report.

Key findings:

  • A number of significant rock producers are looking at new mines to replace or extend production.
  • A great deal of exploratory work and project scoping is being undertaken by junior mining companies, spurred on by the 2007-2008 price boom and the peak phosphate debate.
  • Both merchant tonnage and P2O5 content of the phosphate rock traded have fallen in the past 20 years.
  • The main driver for the trade of merchant rock will continue to be phosphoric acid production. Many of the existing non-captive acid plants are more than 30 years old and face threats to their long-term survival.

The report's availability and cost is at discover more about the strategy report.