Using phosphate and potash in farming not only improves produce quality, but also increases crop yields. Hopes are thus high that demand for both fertilizers will continue to grow as the world’s population increases and the amount of arable land decreases.
Case in point: the US Geological Survey (USGS) expects that world consumption of phosphorus pentoxide fertilizers will increase to 48.2 million tonnes (Mt) by 2019, up from 43.7 Mt in 2015.
Luckily, the world’s phosphate rock production is expected to increase gradually as well, rising from 223 Mt in 2015 up to 255 Mt in 2019. Most of the increase will likely come from the expansion of existing mines in Morocco and the development of a new mine in Saudi Arabia. However, there are a number of other phosphate projects expected to come online by 2019 as well — they are in Algeria, Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Peru, Russia and Tunisia.
With those statistics in mind, it’s interesting to look at world phosphate production for 2015. Here’s a look at the 10 top phosphate-producing countries last year, as per data from the USGS. This article will be updated when new information is released.
Mine production: 100 Mt
China took the top spot in 2015, producing far more phosphate than any other country at 100 Mt; its phosphate production stayed flat relative to 2014. Besides Morocco and the Western Sahara, China holds the second-largest phosphate reserves in the world, with approximately 3.7 billion tonnes of phosphate.
2. Morocco and the Western Sahara
Mine production: 30 Mt
Despite having the world’s largest phosphate reserves at 50 billion tonnes, Morocco and the Western Sahara came in a distant second to China in terms of phosphate production for 2015, putting out just 30 Mt of phosphate rock. According to the FAO, Morocco may possess over half of the world’s reserves of phosphate.
3. United States
Mine production: 27.6 Mt
In 2015, US phosphate output saw a slight increase to 27.6 Mt from 25.3 Mt in 2014. Florida and North Carolina account for roughly 80 percent of phosphate rock production in the US.
Mine production: 12.5 Mt
Russia’s phosphate output increased from 11 Mt in 2014 to 12.5 Mt in 2015. The country also has large reserves at 1.3 billion tonnes and, as mentioned above, its production is expected to continue to increase in the coming years. Russia’s PhosAgro (MCX:PHOR) is the world’s largest producer of high-grade phosphate rock and is Europe’s largest producer of phosphate-based fertilizers.
Mine production: 7.5 Mt
Phosphate output from Jordan increased markedly last year, rising from 7.14 Mt in 2014 up to 7.5 Mt. This number will also likely increase moving forward as existing mines in the country undergo expansions. A book titled “Industrial Minerals & Rocks:Commodities, Markets, and Uses” states that Jordan’s primary natural resource is its phosphate deposits; they are also a major source of export income for the country. Jordan’s phosphate reserves stand at an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes.
Mine production: 6.7 Mt
Last year, Brazil produced 6.7 Mt of phosphate rock, an increase from 6.04 Mt in 2014. Given that Brazil is one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in the world, and currently imports roughly two-thirds of the potash and phosphate it needs from the US, Morocco and Russia, it is encouraging to see an increase in domestic phosphate output. However, the country’s demand has also been steadily increasing, meaning that the need for new mines to be developed there is growing even more.
Mine production: 5.5 Mt
Egypt’s phosphate production remained flat for 2015, at 5.5 Mt. An August 2014 report put out by the Central Metallurgical Research and Development Institute notes that newly discovered phosphate ores are now being mined from an area in the Nile valley. According to the USGS, Egypt’s phosphate reserves now sit at 1.25 billion tonnes.
Mine production: 4 Mt
Tunisia saw a slight increase in phosphate production last year, moving from 3.78 Mt in 2014 up to 4 Mt. As with Jordan and Russia, output of phosphate from Tunisia is expected to increase in the future with the expansion of existing mines. Still, the country’s output took a hit last year due to protests at Metaloui, which produces around 60 percent of Tunisia’s phosphate. According to Reuters, phosphate plants in Southern Tunisia were also affected by the protests, with four towns in the country’s main phosphate-producing region going on strike in May last year.
Mine production: 4 Mt
At 4 Mt of production, Peru tied with Tunisia in terms of phosphate production for 2015, increasing its output from 3.8 Mt in 2014. Peru currently has approximately 820 million tonnes of phosphate reserves.
10. Israel and Saudi Arabia
Mine production: 3.3 Mt
Finally, Israel and Saudi Arabia tied for 10th place on the list of the world’s top phosphate-producing countries for 2015. Israel saw a slight drop in production from 3.36 Mt of output in 2014, while Saudi Arabia bumped up its production from 3 Mt in 2014.
Interestingly, though neighboring country Jordan has phosphate reserves of 1.3 billion tonnes, Israel only holds 130 Mt of phosphate. According to the Geological Survey of Israel, the phosphate deposits of Israel belong to the late Cretaceous-early Eocene Mediterranean phosphate belt, which runs from Turkey to Morocco.
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This article was originally published on August 23, 2015.