Brazil on cusp of domestic potash and phosphate revolution – by Simon Rees (MiningWeekly.com – April 25, 2013)

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TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Fertilisers and their increased application will be vital in driving Brazil’s status as a global agricultural powerhouse. The country is already the world’s fourth-largest consumer, according to Reuters.

Rather than rely on imported raw material for fertiliser production, Brazil’s government is keen to facilitate the growth of a robust domestic potash and phosphate industry. Several significant projects are already in various stages of development, including those being advanced by MBAC, Brazil Potash and Verde Potash.

MBAC is close to bringing on stream its Itafós project, located in the vast Cerrado area, Brazil’s new agricultural frontier.

Construction work is just more than 90% complete, with proven reserves standing at 15.9-million tons and probable reserves at 48.9-million tons. Life of mine is estimated at 19 years, with an average ore grade of 5.08% P2O5 (phosphorus pentoxide). Yearly output is estimated at an initial 500 000 tons single super phosphate (SSP).

“We’ve accomplished a lot over the last four years: we’ve drilled over 75 000 m; obtained the necessary permits and filed the necessary technical reports; [and] secured financing in difficult market conditions,” MBAC VP corporate development Steve Burleton told Mining Weekly Online.

“The mine is complete and licenced, and we’ve stockpiled about 250 000 t of ore so far. The beneficiation plant is being commissioned and expected to come on stream in mid-May,” he said.

“Our sulphuric acid plant is also nearing completion. Here we’ll combine the phosphate concentrate with sulphuric acid to produce SSP powder … We’re also building a plant to produce granular material,” he added.

“We aim to come on stream in June or July, selling product shortly thereafter,” he said. “Our infrastructure is pretty good, with decent roads. At most, our customers will be located 500 km to 700 km from the plant.”

MBAC is also developing the Santana project in southern Paraíba. “We’re now working on a prefeasibility study that should be ready around the end of Q2,” Burleton said.

“Santana is located just north of Matto Grosso state, which is the largest farming district in Brazil and also its largest fertiliser-consuming region,” he said. “But right now, the state is supplied by competitors far to the south or from imported material … So we’d have a huge competitive advantage; we’d be just 300 km to 400 km away.”

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