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Hunt for phosphates takes Indian public sector companies to North Africaqrcode

Jan. 3, 2017

Favorites Print Jan. 3, 2017
State-run firm Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) in partnership with National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) is exploring how to set up a manufacturing plant for soil nutrient diammonium phosphate in Algeria, North Africa.
Senior officials from ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, ministry of mines, RCF and NMDC are currently on a visit to the North African country to look into the various possibilities for setting up the plant of the soil nutrient, which is also known as DAP.
“India’s dependency on imports in case of phosphates at present is around 90%. We are looking at new geographies, where we can produce the fertilizer and bring it back into the country under long term off-take agreement. A team of officials is visiting Algeria to explore the possibility of setting up a DAP plant,” a senior government official said on the condition of anonymity.
India imported around 6 million tonnes of DAP during 2015-16, while imports during the first eight months of the current fiscal stands at 4.103 million tonnes. Another government official, who did not wish to be named, said the idea is to produce sulphuric acid over there, which is one of the key raw materials used in the production of ammonium phosphate fertilizers like DAP. “The idea behind the visit is to assess the domestic availability of DAP in the North African country. For this purpose, RCF may go ahead and set up a DAP plant in Algeria, if all goes through. Also, an Algerian partner needs to be roped in,” the second official quoted above said.
There are large deposits of rock phosphate (raw material) in Algeria which can be mined by NMDC. Queries sent to ministries of chemical and fertilizers, ministry of mines, RCF, NMDC and Embassy of Algeria on 21 December remained unanswered.
Experts have welcomed the initiative. “Except Oman, we have not seen any JV getting success abroad. Also, PSUs are pretty much occupied with other projects and their own expansion. Hence, private sector should be encouraged for these kind of projects,” said U S Jha, former chairman and managing director, RCF. In a similar kind of arrangement, India imports around 2 MT of urea from Oman India Fertilizer Co. (OMIFCO), under a long-term urea off-take agreement between the Indian government and OMIFCO. The urea import from OMIFCO is made through country’s largest co-operative Indian Farmers Fertilizer Co-operative Ltd and Krishak Bharati Cooperative Ltd (KRIBHCO).
state-run Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC) is exploring possibility of setting up a urea plant in the Republic of Congo.
According to information available on the website of fertilizers department, the government has been encouraging Indian companies to establish joint ventures abroad in countries which are rich in fertilizer resources for production facilities with buyback arrangement and to enter into long-term agreement for supply of fertilizers and fertilizer inputs to India.


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