All time low for Foskor

Foskor's Acid Division in Richards Bay

STRIKES and plant failures last year left phosphates and phosphoric acid producer Foskor’s Richards Bay plant with its lowest production results since it was established in 1976.

At the Mhlathuze Effluent Pipeline Forum meeting held on Tuesday, Foskor Environment, Quality and Systems Superintendent Karel du Plessis stated the company’s local acid division faced considerable concerns and challenges during 2015.

The plant was almost totally offline during the 34-day strike after 400 members of CEPPWAWU (Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood & Allied Workers Union) on 28 October downed tools to demand salary changes.

‘Our production challenges also included major equipment replacements and failures as well as troubles with efficiency and plant balance.’

‘Production was down to 300 000 tons last year,’ Du Plessis said.

At full capacity, Foskor Richards Bay can produce per annum 2.2 million tons of sulphuric acid, 720,000 tons of phosphoric acid and 300,000 tons of granular fertiliser.

Projects planned

‘We do, however, have a number of capex (capital expenditure) projects lined up that will increase environmental compliance, improve plant processes and boost production,’

In the short term, the company will purchase an in-plant P205 (phosphate) analyser, separate high P205 streams from clean streams, control the reactor level at 70% and analyse individual streams to the buoyant line.

In the medium and long term, it will revive a third wash in one of its pan filters, install a new fluosilicic system nozzle, install a hot water wash to filters, implement water conservation projects and improve its storm water dam.

Foskor’s Richards Bay Acid Division exports its phosphoric acid, which has agricultural, medical and retail applications, to India, Japan, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Mexico and Dubai.

Mia Moorcroft

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