Keywords: Fertiliser raw materials, Production, Resources.
INTRODUCTION: This paper deals with the following products: ammonia, phosphate rock, potash and sulphur which are considered to be the main raw materials for fertiliser production.
From 1990 to 1992, the world production of these raw materials declined by respectively 5% for ammonia, 10% for phosphate rock, 13% for potash and 9% for sulphur. This reflected lower demand for fertilisers and other derivatives.
As a result, surplus capacity exists and rationalisation has started in various parts of the world.
One may therefore wonder if it is very appropriate and timely to discuss the future availability of fertiliser raw materials.
This may well be the case for a number of reasons:
– Fertiliser consumption is still growing in several key regions. Some recovery is anticipated elsewhere. Though many years will be needed for world fertiliser consumption to regain levels comparable to those of the late 1980s, in the longer term, there will be a need to replace depleted mines or obsolete capacities and to make sure that the future demand will be met.
– Political and economic changes in certain countries, structural reforms, for instance the removal of subsidies promoted by lending institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, and the general decline of fertiliser and raw materials prices have affected the economics of the production of raw materials. As a result, the economic viability of some operations has become questionable.
– In the former Soviet Union, the production of raw materials is not only affected by the political and economic changes – ie. the shift from a highly subsidised economy to a market oriented economy – but also by the breakdown of the Union itself.
The FSU raw materials producers are now separated from some of the users or the export harbours by new state borders. These new political barriers, compounded by huge banking and currency problems, are very serious constraints to the producers, totally unforeseeable a few years ago.
The objective of this paper is not to give new updated data on the world resources for the different raw materials. This information is not available. The intention is merely to express some views on the present situation and on possible future developments.
Working Parties. The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFA or its management.
Pierre L Louis, International Fertiliser Industry Association (IFA), Paris, France.
28 pages, 12 figures, 3 tables.