Insights

Ramping up low-cadmium phosphate rock supply in South Africa

Topics: Insights

Posted on September 28, 2018

Monday the 24th of September marks an important day on the South African calendar: Heritage Day. This is a National Holiday, which presents an opportunity for South Africans to celebrate and embrace their rich and diverse cultural background. This year was extra special for your author as he was able to celebrate it with the team at Safer Phosphates' partner, Kropz.

Kropz is a junior mining company, which is in the process of developing the Elandsfontien phosphate rock project in the Western Cape of South Africa. Over the past few years, it has invested USD120 million into the project, which they aim to commission during the second half of 2019. Their goal is simple: bring good quality phosphate rock concentrate to market in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. Having visited the operations, I can say that they will be doing this from day one. 

Approaching the Elandsfontien project, one comes to appreciate the effort that Kropz has taken to protect the surrounding area. The operation is compact and clean. Carefully-considered modifications have been made to construction plans in order to limit any avoidable waste. The company’s efforts are currently focused on protecting the natural aquifer it is located on, for example, by dewatering and reinjecting further downstream. Looking further ahead, once the mine is in operation, overburden will be backfilled and ultimately the area will be fully restored to its previous state.

The company’s environmental focus, however, goes beyond actions aimed at protecting the area where Kropz’s operations are based. Kropz is a founding member of the Safer Phosphates campaign and they plan to start marketing around a million tonnes of low cadmium phosphate rock per year. This product will be available to global markets, including Europe, and adheres to even the strictest regulations proposed by European Commission (i.e. less than 20mg/kg P205).

The availability of such volumes of high-quality phosphate rock is an important factor to consider in the context of the ongoing EU discussions related to limiting the level of potentially-harmful cadmium in phosphate-based fertilizers. Kropz is just one of the Safer Phosphates partners that seeks to ensure the availability of sufficient volumes of low cadmium product from multiple sources around the world. Moreover, as demand for low-cadmium product increases, more capacity will inevitably become available.

I want to thank Kropz for hosting me on Heritage Day!

Signing out, Juan@Saferphosphates.