Kazphosphate: Reviving a Giant of the Kazakhstani Economics
Nahum Galmor, President and Chairman of the Board of Kazphosphate LLC
From our experience in the last 2.5 years it seems evident that the policy on one hand to assemble under the Kazphosphate umbrella relevant industrial sites connected to the P2O5 industry and on the other hand the manufacturing of new and quality products to be placed in new markets with higher economic interest has proven itself.
Kazphosphate based on this way of thinking will increase its industrial activities by an annual average of about 50% in the years 2000 to 2005. All this great effort will be achieved in spite of an inherent logistical disadvantage emanating from the lack of an access to an international sea-port.
Established in October 1999, the Kazphosphate company comprises Kazakhstani largest industrial enterprises: Karatau mining and processing complex, Novodzhambul phosphorus plant, mineral fertilizers plant, railway transportation complex and detergents plant.
Until 1992 the group of phosphorus enterprises located in the Zhambyl region had been one of the largest suppliers of yellow phosphorus, sodium tripolyphosphate, orthophosphoric acid, fertilizers and other phosphorus compounds to the CIS and European countries. Consequences of an economic crisis have resulted in a full stop of plants for some years, and transfer of the property from one investor to another has ultimately ousted Kazakhstani producers from the international market.
When Kazphosphate was established, its main task was to rehabilitate production, recover lost contacts in international markets, expand the geographical spread of sales and introduce new types of products.
Despite its relatively short period of activity, Kazphosphate today is a dynamically developing and sustainable company. When it was set up, sales were minute, the enterprises bore huge losses and their employees had seen no wages for years. Over two and a half years the company brought its phosphorus production up to 4-5,000 tonnes per month, sodium tripolyphosphate to 6-7,000 tonnes per month, phosphate rock to 70,000 tonnes per month and fertilizers to 12,000 tonnes per month.
Their total investment in the economy of Kazakhstan came to over $30m, including $20m invested in the country’s chemical industry. The current levels of production and sales have been achieved due to high product quality, competitive prices and well-organised supplies. The growth in production over the first nine months of 2002 (compared with the corresponding period of 2001) was between 29.1% and 107.2%, depending on product type. These indicators characterize Kazphosphate as one of the most promising enterprises in Kazakhstan.
The Karatau Mining and Processing Complex
The Karatau basin is located in the Zhambyl and South Kazakhstan regions, stretching 30km in width from north-west to south-east, and is 120km long. The rock strata is open to the daylight, which allows primary open-cast mining. The adjusted explored reserves of the basin come to over 4bn tonnes of rock, or over 1bn tonnes of the useful component-P2O5-which is the active substance in all types of phosphorus fertilizers and materials. Probable reserves in the Karatau basin are estimated at 12-13bn tonnes of rock or 2.5bn tonnes of the active useful component P2O5. In terms of reserves of phosphate resources, Kazakhstan is one of ten countries that possess 90% of the global phosphate resources.
Factors such as huge phosphate resources, the relatively high concentration (21-25%) of the useful component in the rock, the concentration of main rock mass in several large deposits possessing reserves of hundreds of million tonnes and providing favourable mining conditions, and the location of the basin in an industrially developed region are factors in the feasibility of development of the Karatau basin.
Launched in 1946, the complex currently occupies an area of 10,000 hectares and comprises 6 mines where rock phosphate is extracted by open-cast and underground methods, five crushing and sorting factories for primary processing and production (phosphate rock powder, phosphorite fines and phosphate- siliceous raw materials).
Given that the annual demand for P2O5 from agriculture in Kazakhstan (as calculated by the National Academy of Sciences) is some 1-1.2m tonnes, the future long-term demand for Karatau products used in producing phosphate fertilizers may be estimated at 7-7.5m tonnes in real terms.
New technologies for producing and reclaiming rock have helped extraction processing plants to switch to ordinary phosphate feedstock. On this basis, large-scale centralized production of ordinary phosphorite powder for extraction using high-productivity equipment (180-185 tonnes per hour) has been established. The created factory has no anologues.
Rock is extracted from the basin by opencast and underground methods with EKG-8I and EKG-10 electrical excavators. Their bucket capacity is 8-10 m3. The rock mass is transported by BelAZ trucks with a capacity of 110-120 tonnes and rail wagons with 80-100 tonnes capacity.
Four opencast and two underground mines have been built in the Karatau basin for production of 19.2m tonnes of rock per year. Ten rock conditioning productions have been constructed, with a total capacity of about 20m tonnes per year.
The enterprise pays special attention to community projects. Each year, some 1,000 workers’ children go to the Zhuldyz children’s recreation camp. In 2001 the Koktal treatment and recreation complex began operating after a major overhaul. More than 170 miners and chemists from the Zhambyl region undergo preventative treatment there each year. Medical posts which provide qualified health services to workers at the enterprise operate at the industrial sites.
The Karatau mining and processing complex, created on the basis of the Karatau rock basin, is the only supplier of feedstock for the domestic phosphorus industry as well as for local and Central Asian producers of mineral fertilizers. This has shaped the market in phosphate materials and its potential consumers such as the phosphorus plants in Taraz (Kazakhstan), and Tolliati (Russia), mineral fertilizers plants in Taraz, Aktau, Stepnogorsk (Kazakhstan), Almalyk, and Samarkand (Uzbekistan) and Chardja (Turkmenistan).
The Novodzhambul Phosphorous Plant
The Novodzhambul phosphorous plant is a chemical plant producing yellow phosphorus and phosphorus products (thermal orthophosphoric acid, sodium tripolyphosphate, ferrophosphorus, and granulated slag). The technology of producing yellow phosphorus from agglomerated phosphorite fines in furnaces with a capacity of 80 MW has been introduced at the Novodzhambul plant for the first time. The use of phosphate fines-which were previously dumped on slag-heaps-in this process is based on agglomeration by Czech-made equipment.
After a detailed study of the parameters of the phosphorus production process, which can influence the chemical composition of iron-phosphorus alloy, it was possible to discover a method allowing the concentration of associated components and phosphorus in alloy to be forecasted by slag mode in the furnace. This helped to define the structure of the alloy before it leaves the furnace and to organize separate storage by brands of ferrophosphorus, the by-product. As a result, four brands of ferrophosphorus-widely used in metallurgy-are produced in the plant. The quality of alloys produced is much higher than that in many similar plants in the industry. Phosphorus and its compounds are used in various sectors of the economy, such as production of matches, alloying of cast iron and steel, treatment of fabrics, plastic and timber (for higher refractoriness), production of drilling agents, toothpaste and many foods and pharmaceuticals.
Phosphorus compounds are widely used in the production of organic phosphorus fertilizers: Thiophos, Carbophos and others. Trisodiumphosphate produced by the plant is used in the energy sector, metallurgy, rail transport, the pulp and paper industry.
The bulk of the plant’s production goes to consumers in CIS, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Germany and other countries.
In the highly competitive international market of yellow phosphorus, the company co-operates with chemical industry giants such as Bayer, Clariant, Akzo Nobel (Germany) and Alwernia (Poland). Therefore, Kazakhstan, once the main supplier of phosphorus for Europe, is now regaining its position in the market.
The plant is a leading supplier of sodium tripolyphosphate-the main ingredient of detergents-to the industrial enterprises of the Henkel company. In Russia these are the Pemos plant (Perm), Era (Tosno), Henkel-South (Engels), in Ukraine it is Henkel-Uzhgorod (Uzhgorod). The high quality products are supplied to the world-famous Procter and Gamble transnational corporation, Russia’s Novomoskovskbytkhim and also to Turkish plants. In addition, the plant is a front runner in terms of sodium tripolyphosphate supplies to main producers of detergents in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Yugoslavia.
The production of food-grade tripolyphosphate has been launched, which is used in the food industry. Sodium tripolyphosphate with specific parameters is supplied to customers who have special demands regarding the chemical composition of products.
Railway Transportation Complex
This complex services enterprises located in the industrial area of Taraz. It comprises 18 locomotives of the TEM and TGM types and six locomotive cranes with a carrying capacity of 16, 20 and 80 tonnes. The wagon fleet makes up 678, including 368 tank cars for transporting yellow phosphorus, 76 for shipping phosphoric acid and 244 other tanks. The total length of railways stands at 136.3km.
The complex has three stations-Zavodskaya, Khimprom and Phosphornaya-which are equipped with electrically-controlled centralized points and signals, loudspeaker communication, and are connected with main lines at two stations of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy: Assa and Chaykuruk.
The rail complex of Kazphosphate is a modern transport organization, the majority of which labour-intensive processes are mechanized and automated. The enterprise can boast of its powerful technical potential and stable, qualified personnel.
Mineral Fertilizers Plant
Kazphosphate also includes an enterprise producing mineral fertilizers, fodder fluorine-free phosphates for agriculture and sulphocoal for chemical water preparation at heat power plants and boiler-rooms.
The plant comprises facilities for producing phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers: up to 150,000 tonnes of ammophos (monoammoniumphosphate) per year and up to 148,000 tonnes of fodder tricalciumphosphate per year. The enterprise also produces new types of mineral fertilizers: superphosphate, nitroammophos and others. A state programme for fertilizer subsidies to domestic farmers has been carried through for a second year. In 2002 it is planned to boost these subsidies to 40,000 tonnes. The plant sells fertilizers to Ukraine, Tajikistan (up to 30,000 tonnes) and China (up to 100,000 tonnes). The markets for phosphorus fertilizers in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Romania are being developed. The enterprise plans to access the markets of the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Iran in the near future.
The detergents plant is based in Shymkent, South Kazakhstan region. It has a capacity of up to 60,000 tonnes of detergents per year.
The detergent process line was launched in 1979 on the basis of the Shymkent Phosphorus Plant. When the plant went bankrupt, it was included in the Kazphosphate company.
Currently the workshop for receiving, preparing and drying feedstock, which includes an electric car charger terminal, is under reconstruction and will be launched soon.
The bulk of the production is to be sold in the home market and to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
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