US bill would make phosphate, potash critical minerals

  • : Fertilizers
  • 24/03/19

The US Senate on 14 March introduced a bill that would include key fertilizers phosphate and potash on the list of critical minerals by the US Department of Interior.

The designation could streamline permitting for new production sites in the US by consolidating the permit process to a single agency, said industry advocacy group The Fertilizer Institute (TFI).

US sanctions on Belarusian potash and US import duties on Moroccan and Russian phosphate disrupted trade flows in recent years and created supply uncertainty in US markets that contributed to volatile fertilizer prices and occasionally tight availability.

"The events of the past few years have shown us that food security is national security and now is the time to change how we talk about these vital resources," TFI chief executive Corey Rosenbusch said.

Both potash and phosphate fertilizers are vital to agricultural production in the US. MOP imports — a key potash fertilizer — totaled 11.8mn t in 2023, alongside key phosphate fertilizers DAP and MAP, which together accounted to 2.3mn t of deliveries to the US, according to US Census data.

Russia and Belarus, two of 14 potash-producing countries, together represented more than 40pc of global production in 2023 and output of both countries is expected to grow in 2024. For phosphate rock, a necessary feedstock for phosphate fertilizer production, Morocco and China accounted for about half of global output in 2023.

The US Geological Survey previously listed potash on the critical minerals list but removed it around 2022 during its last update. The Department of Energy's prior list of critical minerals in 2023 did not include potash or phosphate. Minerals are added and detracted from the list depending on their affect on national security, the economy, and role in critical infrastructure, according to Interior.

Senators Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska), Rick Scott (R-Florida) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) proposed the bipartisan bill, SB 3956, to the committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

An analogous bill was put forth by the House on 13 June but has not received attention since then.

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