Wednesday, 14 December 2022 12:55

Oz mine locked in as new source of phosphate rock

Written by  Staff Reporters
Ballance is taking delivery of the first shipment of phosphate rock from Queensland. Ballance is taking delivery of the first shipment of phosphate rock from Queensland.

Fertiliser co-op Ballance is taking delivery of the first shipment of phosphate rock from Queensland.

The shipment follows an initial feasibility trial of a small parcel of rock in July 2018. The trial shipment came as the Ardmore project came to fruition near Mount Isa.

Ballance says this provided the confidence to work closely with mineral resource company Centrex and its subsidiary Agriflex.

“For some time we’ve been looking to diversify our source of phosphate rock, a critical mineral required to maintain healthy soils, and find a source closer to New Zealand to help mitigate supply chain disruptions,” says Shane Dufaur, Ballance general manager operations & supply chain.

“Our security of supply for phosphate rock has been under a huge amount of pressure over the last 12 months, we’ve had to navigate many curve balls, some we expected, and others we didn’t.”

In August, Ballance representatives visited Centrex in Australia to understand both supply chain and ESG alignment.

Dufaur says as a result the company prioritised this additional rock source.

Ballance expects to schedule further shipments over the course of 2023 and beyond, following a successful production trial of the current consignment.

Dufaur says it’s impossible to overstate the importance of good soil health, it’s the very foundation for the high-quality food produced in New Zealand. As such the country needs to maintain surety of supply for critical minerals. The theme of this year’s World Soil Day (celebrated on December 5) reflects this – Soils, where food begins. “When we get the balance right, healthy soil grows healthy food, protects our water quality and even helps reduce greenhouse gases.”

Centrex chief executive Robert Mencel says that Ardmore’s phosphate rock sets a new environmental standard. Its natural ultra-low cadmium level eliminates the risk of heavy metal soil contamination and helps to maintain soil health.

“Agriflex’s unique solar drying process utilises the sun’s energy to naturally dry the product, eliminating the most significant carbon emission stage of phosphate rock production. It’s very high grade and Australia’s proximity to New Zealand directly lowers carbon transport emissions on a %P basis.”

The primary role of Ballance is to provide an affordable and reliable supply of nutrients to farmers and growers.

“Together, by working with suppliers closer to home such as Centrex, we can continue to produce the best products in the world with the lightest environmental footprint,” says Dufaur.

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