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Arab Potash Company Potash Factory, Jordan




Key Data


Jordan-based mining company, the Arab Potash Company (APC) opened a new potash plant at its existing factory in Ghor El-Safi, Jordan in October 2010. The plant was officially inaugurated by King Abdullah in October 2010. The factory is located at an existing APC site, about 110km from the capital city Amman.

The project constitutes the first phase of a two-phase expansion of the factory, aimed to increase the production capacity. The expansion, which has cost JOD350m ($500m), involved plant optimisation with modifications to solar ponds systems and construction of a new warehouse. The improvements are expected to enhance productivity and longevity of the facilities.

The new plant has a production capacity of 500,000t/y. It has increased the overall potash production capacity of APC from 2m tons per year (mt/y) to 2.5mt/y. It is expected to generate sales of JOD120m ($170m) in 2011. The second phase of expansion will ultimately increase the capacity to 3mt/y.

Background

APC was established in 1956 by the Government of Jordan to extract minerals and produce potash from the Dead Sea. The Ghor El-Safi plant was constructed in 1982 and started production in 1983 with a capacity of 1.2mt/y.

It later underwent upgrades and expansions and in 1994 a second plant increased the capacity to 1.8mt/y. Further expansions and optimisation increased the capacity to 2mt/y.

The site features a 150km² solar evaporation pond system and ore processing plants. Other facilities include a cold crystallisation plant (CCP I), an industrial potash plant (IPP), a hot leach plant (HLP) and a new cold crystallisation plant (CCP II).

"The brine from the Dead Sea is pumped to the APC site by the pump stations."

Design and construction

Work on the first phase of the project began with awarding the feasibility studies and design contracts in 2005. The scope of work included building a new potash plant, cold crystallisation plant and carnallite ponds, as well as improving the existing power plant and solar evaporation system.

Work was completed in phases, preparing the engineering design, civil works implementation for the control room building, collecting pond, pipelines, joints and valves motors and transformer cables, procurement of electrical and mechanical equipments and final installation and commissioning. All the works were completed by July 2009.

In 2008, a new potash warehouse was built in Ghor El-Safi, increasing the storage capacity by 40,000t to a total of 105,000t. In the first quarter of 2010, the company's warehouse in Aqaba was also expanded to increase its capacity by 75,000t to a total of 250,000t.

The site has two pumping stations in the Dead Sea which pump brine to the solar ponds. A new pumping station was constructed to support the new facility and further expansions. Work on the project began in 2008 and completed in August 2010.

Potash process technology

The brine from the Dead Sea is pumped to the APC site by the pump stations. It is then fed to the large solar ponds where the initial concentration process is performed. The solids in the brine are precipitated to form salts in the ponds.

The remaining brine is pumped to the carnallite ponds where it is precipitated. The precipitated carnallite is the raw material for producing potash. It is a mixture of magnesium chloride, potassium chloride and small amounts of sodium chloride.

"The output is transported to the company's warehouses in Ghor El-Safi and Aqaba."

The carnallite is harvested and pumped to the existing and new refineries. The hot leach plant and cold crystallisation plants (CCP I and CCP II) process the carnallite to extract potash.

The final product is produced as standard potash, fine potash, industrial potash and granular potash. The output is transported to the company's warehouses in Ghor El-Safi and Aqaba.

The state-of-the-art technologies incorporated into the new plant reduce gaseous and potash dust emissions. They are also expected to reduce the water and power consumption at the plant.

Contractors

The pre-feasibility study and detailed design phase for the project were conducted by a joint venture of Dar Al-Handasah Consultants and Hatch. This venture was also responsible for supervising the project.

The Petroleum Projects and Technical Consultations of Egypt was the construction contractor.

The site includes a 150km² solar evaporation pond system and ore processing plants.
The potash factory was opened in October 2010.
The estimated cost of construction of the new plant and other improvements is $500m.
The Ghor Safi potash plant draws brine from the Dead Sea.
The new plant has a capacity of 500,000t/y of potash.
The newly constructed cold crystallisation plant.