Not All Phosphate Rock is Created Equal
- Phosphate rock chemistry and phosphorus concentration varies significantly from site to site around the world.
- Phosphate ore may contain only a few percent or up to more than 30% P2O5. Impurities may be highly variable.
- The ore may be in a thick layer (bed) or a thin one, and the ore may be near the surface or lie much deeper.
- WAP, the dominant phosphoric acid technology, requires relatively high-quality phosphate rock with a high P2O5 content (>28%) and low in impurities.
- Meeting these standards is expensive, requiring that mined phosphate ore goes through a series of processing steps (beneficiation) at the mine designed to upgrade P2O5 concentrations and remove impurities.
- The more beneficiation that is required, the more capital and operating expenses miners incur, and the greater proportion of phosphate that is discarded with reject material (tailings).
- In many cases, miners choose to abandon phosphate ore in the ground—even in an area that has already been uncovered—because they cannot justify the cost of mining and beneficiating it up to the quality level required to make phosphoric acid in today’s wet acid plants.
- IHP using low-quality rock unlocks mining opportunities around the world