The world is watching as Sirius Minerals' unprecedented 10 Mt/y Woodsmith polyhalite mine, under development in northern England, approaches its final stage of capital raising.
As part of our Potassium Sulphates and Potassium Nitrate Market Outlook, this insight considers the multi-nutrient product's current market position, looks at the potential impact of large volumes of previously little used product on the fertilizer industry and we consider what is an achievable sales price.
Introduction to Polyhalite Polyhalite is a mineral currently mined in small volumes, but one which has accumulated significant interest over recent years as large-scale projects look to attract funding and 'disrupt' the fertilizer market. A hydrated potassium, calcium and magnesium sulphate evaporite mineral, polyhalite historically attracted little interest from exploration or fertilizer companies due to its lower potassium content and solubility compared to other potassium-bearing ores.
However, the industry has continued to evolve and Israel Chemicals Limited's United Kingdom subsidiary (ICL UK) now distributes around 500 kt/y from its Boulby mine as a direct application fertilizer or bulk-blend/compound NPK additive.
Polyhalite's characteristics as a fertilizer Polyhalite's composition is most similar to the other major potassium magnesium sulphate ("SOPM") fertilizers: langbeinite, schöenite and Patentkali®. All are marketed as low-chloride potash fertilizers with additional magnesium and sulphur components. ICL UK markets polyhalite as a multi-nutrient, low-chloride fertilizer under the brand name Polysulphate®. Sirius plans to market its polyhalite as POLY4®. Both product's value components are:
Primary nutrients: 14% K2O
Secondary nutrients: 6% MgO, 19% S, 17% CaO
Low-chloride potash (some crops are chloride intolerant).
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