ICL recently announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with LLNP Ltd., a Namibian subsidiary of the Leviev Group, an international holding and investment company ("LLNP") to perform a feasibility study to establish a world-scale phosphates and downstream production business in Namibia, including fertilizer-grade phosphoric acid, white phosphoric acid, bulk fertilizers (e.g. MAP and DAP) and specialty fertilizers. LLNP holds permits and exploration rights to mine phosphate deposits that are estimated to total approximately one billion tonnes.
The cost of extracting the phosphate is anticipated to be very competitive compared to competitors, which, in turn, is expected to enable downstream production to deliver best cost of goods.
Over the next several months, ICL and LLNP will finalize the technology development required to produce phosphate downstream products from marine deposits, including the establishment of a local industrial pilot plant. Upon its successful completion, a detailed feasibility study will be prepared to secure financing for the project.
The location of the plant on Namibia's Atlantic shore with close proximity to the marine mining site is expected to provide major logistical advantages by virtue of its proximity to markets in North and South America and competitive freight rates to East Africa. An adjacent port will be used to export goods, as well as to import raw materials required in the production process. The production plant will also benefit logistically by its proximity to land-based transportation systems (including a railway line) serving areas with high demand in Southern and West Africa.
LLNP's parent company, Leviev Group, possesses unique technological knowledge of maritime mining based on its substantial experience in maritime mining in Namibia. This will greatly complement ICL's extensive experience, advantages and position as a world leader in the specialty phosphate market.
The partnership with LLNP follows ICL's recent formation of a phosphate joint venture with Yunnan Yuntianhua, China's leading phosphate company ("YTH"). The Chinese JV is comparable to the planned operation in Namibia based on a mine producing ~2.5 million tonnes of phosphate rock per year.
The JV with LLNP is part of the execution of ICL's 'Next Step Forward' strategy to diversify its sources of phosphate-raw materials in order to build its specialty phosphate business, in this case in the Americas and in Africa for the agriculture, food ingredients and engineered materials markets. These steps are expected to ensure the continuation of ICL's phosphate operations.