Israel Chemicals in Global Hunt for Phosphate

ICL teams are exploring sites in countries as far afield as Vietnam, Kazakhstan, China, the United States, Brazil and Togo, with a year-end deadline for making a decision.

Israel Chemicals is engaging in a round-the-world search for new phosphate mining sites that can supply raw materials for its performance products division, officials said Sunday.

ICL teams are exploring sites in countries as far afield as Vietnam, Kazakhstan, China, the United States, Brazil and Togo, with a year-end deadline for making a decision. ICL would either buy mining rights or, if it opts for a country like China where rights are not sold, enter into a joint venture with local partners.

The efforts are under way as ICL continues to lobby for rights to mine at Sde Brir near the Negev town of Arad. Health Minister Yael German said last week that she opposes mining there because of health hazards to Arad’s residents.

The new potash supplies would be used by ICL Performance Products divisions, which manufacturers a broad variety of downstream products for food and industrial applications, with a focus on food, cleaning products, fire safety, coatings and parts for the electronics industry.

The division had sales last year of $1.4 billion, making up about a fifth of the company’s total.

ICL’s existing reserves in Israel will be depleted within a decade unless it gets the rights to mine in Sde Brir. The site near Arad would extend reserves for another 30 years. 

Ofer Vaknin