The main raw material of the project comprises polyhalite ores, and the polyhalite content in the ores is 75% to 90%. Polyhalite ore contains four useful elements: Potassium, calcium, sulfur, and magnesium. In order to produce the end product – SOP – the ore is mined using shaft method from the depth of 900 meters, and potassium sulfate must be recovered from the ore. The ore contains around 10% of K2O, while in case of SOP- 50%, so for 1 million tons of the product it is required to have 5.5 million tons of ore, taking into account losses. The technology developed for ore milling and ore treatment is based on milling, torrefaction, dissolution, water flushing, evaporization and drying/solidification, and no hazardous waste is generated. Hence the chemical composition of polyhalite provides for recovery of SOP without conversion and without the application of acids, which reduces the cost of production.
The compounds contained in the mineral, as well as the technology provides for further use of the raw materials after SOP recovery – it allows for their further treatment with step-by-step recovery of additional marketable products which contain magnesium salts or magnesium salts in combination with potassium salts, such as potassium sulfate and potassium magnesia.
At the same time, the processing scrap in this case is calcium sulfate or gypsum. The German company K-UTEC AG Salt Technologies proposed to bring the technology of processing such waste to the standards of construction materials industry. As a result, gypsum plaster was added as a product of this project.
This advanced processing ensures high product yield per one ton of feedstock.
Notably the very ore in its refined, strained, and granulated form is a marketable product with the market name of polysulfate or POLY4. It is a relatively new, efficient and progressive type of a fertilizer featuring extended action and containing potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur yet in source quantities and high potential of growing consumption.
As a result, the following products can be produced from ore:
- Potassium sulfate (SOP);
- Magnesium sulfate, potassium magnesia;
- Gypsum plaster;
A range of project scenarios has been developed with different product lines. In case of In case of diversification of the product range it is possible to achieve 63%.
Product Features. These are high grade fertilizers in the family of potassium fertilizers. They allow for significant improvement of the efficiency of agriculture. The fertilizers contain 50% of K2O and no chlorine, which is generally useful. This is a rather new product, its consumption and production volume is growing worldwide. Potassium sulfate is an expensive and efficient product that has enjoyed high demand over the past several decades of rapidly evolving agribusiness technologies. It is traded at the price of more than USD 550 per ton as compared with the price of chloride potassium of USD 200 – USD 300 per ton.
Global consumption potential is as follows:
- SOP, from the actual 3 million tons to potentially 5 million tons expressed as K2O.
- As part of NPK the potential of 2.5 million tons to 7.2 million tons. The global production volume of NPK in market weight, according to Yara, is currently about 80-90 million tons, with K2О share of 15%-21% (12-18 million tons expressed as K2O. There is also a trend to use K2SO4, not KCl as part of NPK, with resultant NPKS). The potential of replacement with potassium sulfate at the rate of 20%-40% yields potential indirect SOP consumption of 2.5 million tons to 7.2 million tons.
- Other potassium-containing fertilizers: the potential of 1.4 million tons expressed as K2O.
The total potential SOP consumption from 7 million tons to 14 million tons expressed as К2О, or from 14 million tons to 28 million tons of SOP, or from 70 million tons to 140 million tons of polyhalite ore.
Regarding the market potential of polyhalite fertilizers, according to analytics by CRU, in the third decade of 21stCentury a number of effective and cost efficient fertilizers based on polyhalites (polysulfate, POLY4) has been prepared to hit the markets. Their market potential is 50 million tons of commodity weight. The current global market capacity of the polyhalite product, according to data by Sirius, is 12 million tons to 20 million tons at the finished goods price of USD 150 – USD 160 per ton. The data presented by YARA demonstrate the possibility of replacement of over 130 million tons of commodity weight with several nutriments.