Egypt looks to capitalize on its low phosphate rock cost base
Egyptian phosphate rock miners achieve some of the lowest production costs in the 200 tonnes per year industry, allowing them to continue exports in a difficult pricing environment.
However, Egyptian operators are now following the trend of capturing greater value through downstream capacity and aim to ramp-up projects over the next five years. Ahead of the publication of the 2017 Phosphate Rock Cost Report, CRU undertook a research visit to Egypt's largest mine, Abu Tartour, as the mine's operator, Misr Phosphate Co., plans to construct its first phosphoric acid plant at the site.
Downstream facilities in Egypt remain modest in capacity despite the country's status as the seventh largest phosphate rock producer in the world. Consequently, over 60% of Egyptian phosphate rock is exported making the nation the third largest phosphate rock exporter after Morocco and Jordan.
The low quality of Egyptian rock (usually less than 30% P2O5) makes it cheap and most is used in lower value SSP or direct application (DAPR) markets.
Miners can nevertheless endure low prices as they achieve some of the lowest production costs in the industry. As the global market undergoes change, with the share of traded rock to total demand shrinking, Egyptian rock producers now have advanced plans for downstream facilities, despite the quality limitations.
CRU phosphate consultants, Yoston Montoya Garcia and Alexander Derricott, with fertilizer cost consultant, Humphrey Knight, were provided with a unique opportunity to visit Egypt's largest phosphate rock mine, Abu Tartour. This allows CRU to better understand how Misr Phosphate Co., and the country as a whole, achieves such low operating expenses.