Rare phosphate deposit may alleviate domestic supply issues

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The global phosphate market is experiencing some shortages lately and there is a potential domestic solution.

Over the last ten years, Arianne Phosphate, based out of Montreal, Que. has been working on the largest green-field, or undeveloped phosphate deposit, located north of the Saguenay region.

“It’s a very big deposit. Today it’s the world’s largest green-field phosphate deposit. It makes a very high-purity phosphate concentrate which of course is important, you don’t want these contaminants in your fields,” says Brian Ostroff, president and CEO of Arianne Phosphate.

Ostroff explains that phosphate is not only used in agriculture and not all phosphate is formed equally — it will vary deposit to deposit. Most of the world’s phosphate — about 90 per cent – comes from sedimentary deposits.

“The challenge with those deposits are that you get a lot of deleterious elements mixed in there. You’ll have some radioactive elements in there, some heavy metals like cadmium. Ultimately since you’re talking food chain, this is not a good thing,” says Ostroff.

In Arianne’s case, the deposit is igneous in nature, and doesn’t contain those impurities or deleterious elements. In Arianne’s case, it means that MAP, DAP, or animal feeds or food preservatives are much easier to concentrate.

Why has it taken so long to make moves on this deposit to mine it? Ostroff says that he’s been talking about the threat to phosphates for years, but nobody seemed to listen, until global deficits reached a breaking point and some countries halted fertilizer exports.

Ostroff explains how a domestic phosphate source would help Canadian producers in this interview with RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney:

Related: North American phosphate expected to trade at a premium as U.S. clears path for Moroccan and Russian import tariffs

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