Brazil To Slash Fertilizer Imports

Brazil will slash imports of nitrogen and phosphate in the next five years as local deposits are mined, but the farming giant will still depend on foreign miners for potassium, industry officials said on July 12.

A forecast produced by the National Association of Fertilizer Distributors (ANDA), estimated Brazil’s consumption of these inputs would reach 30 million tonnes by 2016, 15 per cent more than the 26 million likely to be used in 2011.

Fertilizer imports by 2016 would fall to a third of consumption from 60 per cent in 2010, as investments in fertilizer by Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras and iron ore miner Vale come online.

The Latin American country would still rely on imports for about 80 per cent of its potassium needs however, to feed the soil in the world’s No. 1 producer of sugar, coffee, citrus and beef and major producer of grains including soy and corn.

“The national industry has made a huge effort to increase production. What is economically viable and possible, is already being (developed),” said Mario Barbosa, director and president at both Anda and Vale’s fertilizer arm, Vale Fertilizantes, speaking at an industry meeting in Sao Paulo.

Barbosa said that reserves of potash-rich sylvinite ore could be depleted in the next five years at Vale Fertilizante’s mine in the northeastern state of Sergipe. It could then turn to mining carnallite, an alternative potassium source, in the same state, as part of a deal with Petrobras.

Brazilian firm Potassio do Brasil said last year it had discovered what it believed to be more than one billion tonnes of potash in the Amazon region that it said could meet a quarter of the agricultural giant’s needs per year, if viable.

Fer tilizer sales in Brazil jumped 30 per cent in the first half of the year compared with that period of 2010, with sales of 11.2 million tonnes and this was likely to rise in the second half of the year, the period when most fertilizer is sold.

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