Eurochem launches test MOP production at Usolskiy
London, 13 March (Argus) — Russian fertilizer producer Eurochem has started test MOP production at its Usolskiy mine. It intends to start production of marketable MOP in the second quarter, and produce around 450,000t this year.
The project, like many greenfield mines, is running behind initial start-up projections. Eurochem did not produce the 100,000t it had initially intended to last year, nor will it produce the intended 500,000-600,000t of MOP previously forecast for 2018.
But the international export market will still feel the impact of an additional 450,000t, as Russia's Uralkali, which supplies Eurochem with its potash requirements, will be looking to place that tonnage elsewhere, unless it cuts back on its production.
Eurochem will initially serve its own potash needs before any of its product hits the international spot markets. It needs to source around 850,000-1mn t/yr of potash for its requirements. Around 400,000t is for processing into NPKs, and the remainder is bought and resold through distributors including BenTrei in the US and Tocantins in Brazil.
As well as supplying its own MOP needs, Eurochem also plans to convert 200,000t from its MOP production in 2019 to SOP, and aims to convert 500,000t to SOP in 2020 or 2021.
The company previously said it expects regular production and sustained ramping-up operations to begin from early May, as it moves towards a first-phase output capacity of 2.3mn t/yr of potash in 2021.
First production of marketable potash at Eurochem's second mine, VolgaKaliy, is still scheduled for the summer of 2018. But the company now expects output at VolgaKaliy this year to be 130,000-140,000t, after previously projecting that it could reach 256,000-300,000t.
Usolskiy's peak production capacity will be 3.7mn t/yr of MOP, and VolgaKaliy's 4.6mn t/yr, once fully ramped up.