IM Agrminerals News in Brief 13 – 19 February

By Myles McCormick
Published: Friday, 19 February 2016

India halts potash imports; PhosAgro outlines capex plans; New Zealand ombudsman to investigate expenses claims in Chatham-EPA case.

India has halted its potash imports until the end of March, as droughts significantly reduce demand in the country, which is one of the world’s largest consumers of fertiliser, Reuters reported.

India, whose major phosphate suppliers include Uralkali PJSC, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, Agrium Inc., Mosaic Co., K+S AG, Arab Potash Co. and Israel Chemicals Ltd, has also delayed negotiations for 2017 potash purchases until at least June.

Government and industry officials have said that Indian potash imports are unlikely to reach levels of over 4m tonnes seen in recent years in 2017.

According to Reuters, spot prices for potash currently stand at around $230/tonne, an eight-year low and a reduction of over a quarter since last year.

London-listed Russian phosphate producer PhosAgro OJSC’s top priority for the coming year will be to continue with large-scale investment projects to expand and modernise existing facilities, according to the company’s CEO, Andrey Guryev.

This will include construction of a 760 tpa ammonia production facility, a 500 tpa granulated urea line and the overhaul of existing urea and phosphate-based fertiliser capacities at its Cherepovets site.

The company will also aim to complete development of its upstream capacities at Apatit, which will include increasing outputs at the Kirovskiy and Rasumchorrskiy mines and completing modernisation work of the apatite-nepheline peneficiation plant, ANOF-3.

All of the projects will be completed in 2017.

The Office of the Ombudsman in New Zealand will investigate expenses charged by the country’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd.

The costs were associated with a declined marine consent application filed by Chatham. The miner is contesting New Zealand dollar (NZ$) 800,000 ($530,808*) in invoiced costs, of a total of $2.7m ($1.7m) charged by the EPA.

"The requested scope of the investigation was first to examine the EPA's costs recovery practices for its marine consent process - including the withholding of information from CRP which was relevant to whether some of the charges were authorised by law," said Chris Castle, CEO of Chatham.

TSX-V listed oil and gas producer, American Petrogas Inc. has brought on board advisory firm Advisian to prepare a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of phosphate resources at its Bayovar mineral concessions in Peru.

Advisian, a subsidiary of Worley Parsons, expects to publish the results of the PEA during Q2 2016, ahead of a prefeasibility study (PFS) by the end of the year.

Senegal’s Mimran Natural Resources is set to buy a 45% stake in local company, AFRIG SA, which owns a number of phosphate and heavy mineral deposits in the West African state.

AFRIG intends to enter the fertiliser market through the construction of the country’s second phosphoric acid plant, the other being an existing facility held by Industries Chimiques du Senegal.

Zambian miner, Zamphos Minerals Resources Ltd, has discovered phosphate deposits in the country’s Isoka district, the Zambian Daily Mail newspaper has reported.

The company is currently engaged in exploratory drilling for phosphate at the site, which is also believed to hold rare earths and a number of other minerals.

"We are looking at other mineral prospects but, the major one is the phosphate fertiliser, although there are also deposits of dolomite, ankerite, siderite, Isokite and apatile," Zamphos geologist Tapuwa Muthetwa told the Daily Mail.

Zambia currently imports 90% of its phosphate requirements from China.

In financing news, ASX-listed Minbos Resources Ltd has entered into a subscription agreement with Green Services Investment, to raise Australian dollar (A$) 3.4m ($2.4m) via the placement of 680m shares.

The placement will be conducted in two tranches, one of 268m shares for $1.3m and one of 412m shares at $2.1m, plus an issue of 385m options at an exercise price of A$0.01.

The proceeds from the financing will be used to fund a bankable feasibility study (BFS) at Minbos’s 50%-owned Cabinda phosphate project in Angola.           

*Conversions made February 2016

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