Australian agriculture business profits from soaring fertilizer prices with domestic phosphate mining

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Soaring prices and continued supply chain disruptions are forcing Australian agricultural companies to source much-needed phosphate from the domestic market.

Phosphate is one of the main plant nutrients in the soil and plants need it for both cell development and root growth.

The cost of sending fertilizer to Australia in April 2022 was $1,251 a tonne compared to $533 a tonne in May 2021, according to figures from Thomas Elders Markets.

The Ardmore Phosphate Rock Project is approximately 130 kilometers south of Mount Isa. (Provided)

Agriflex is the agricultural arm of mining company Centrex Limited and recently began mining its Ardmore Phosphate Rock project, just south of Mount Isa in Queensland.

The company’s agronomist, Walter van Leeuwen, told 9News that they were busy “making rock phosphate available directly to local fertilizer producers and farmers.”

“Fertilizer prices are a hot topic right now,” he said.

“Phosphate is essential for the production of food crops and pasture for livestock, yet we are almost entirely dependent on imported products.”

Agriflex supplies finely ground phosphate rock nationwide for direct application to crops and pastures.

Direct Application Phosphate Rock (DAPR) is best suited to high rainfall areas or irrigated crops with acidic soils (pH6-6.5).

Agriflex says it is keen to raise awareness among local farmers that Australia's reliance on imported phosphate may soon disappear.
Agriflex says it is keen to raise awareness among local farmers that Australia’s reliance on imported phosphate may soon disappear. (Provided)

Van Leeuwen said DAPR provides farmers with a higher quality product option as well as a way to reduce reliance on imports.

“We grind phosphate rock to less than 4mm so that it becomes a slow-release organic fertilizer that constantly adds phosphate to the soil profile and is therefore a very cost-effective way to increase crop nutrition,” he said. -he declares.

Centrex Limited’s Ardmore Phosphate Rock Project mined its first parcel of high-grade phosphate rock last year with an initial parcel of 25,000 tonnes made available exclusively to farmers for use as DAPR.

“I would say just over 20% of that was transferred to domestic markets,” Van Leeuwen said.

The Ardmore Phosphate Rock project in northwest Queensland mined its first plot of high-grade phosphate rock last year
The Ardmore Phosphate Rock project in northwest Queensland mined its first plot of high-grade phosphate rock last year. (Provided)

Centrex announced plans to mine phosphate rock at Ardmore in 2018 to help reduce Australia’s increasingly risky reliance on imports.

Over the past year, economic conditions and rock phosphate prices have improved significantly.

Agriflex said one contributing factor is the North African benchmark price of 70% phosphate rock, which has doubled over the past year, hitting $362 a tonne in May.

The lion’s share of future product from the mine is destined for the domestic and international phosphate fertilizer market.


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