Chatham Rock advancing phosphate project, Australia

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Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd. [NZP-TSXV; CRP-NZX; 3GRE-FSE] reported that its wholly-owned Australian subsidiary, Korella MCP Pty Ltd., has taken a significant first step in its march to become the sole Australian producer of monocalcium phosphate (MCP).

The first step to produce MCP is to produce the precursor weak phosphoric acid (WPA) which has just been successfully accomplished in bench scale tests at Monash University.

Since early 2021, plans have been progressed by CRP to enable production of 30,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of MCP to meet the needs of primarily the cattle industry of Northern Australia.

The severe phosphorus deficiencies in North Australian range land means that for cattle production in this extensive region supplemental feeding of phosphorus is an essential part of cattle raising and management.

MCP is a soluble and palatable form of phosphorus readily taken up by all farmed animals to build healthy bones. MCP, presently 100% imported, is an essential part of all cattle lick blocks and cattle dry lick. There are some 14 major lick block manufacturers in Queensland and NSW serving the cattle industry in the North. MCP is also the preferred phosphorus supplement for pigs and poultry.

With Australia importing all of its animal feed grade phosphorus supplements of around 50,000 tpa, the development of a Cloncurry based manufacturing facility to produce 30,000 tpa will deliver a reliable quality product into a resilient supply chain.

The inputs for production of MCP of phosphate, limestone and sulphuric acid will, apart from sulphuric acid, be sourced from our Korella North mine. However, sulphuric acid will be manufactured on-site utilizing prilled sulphur imported from Canada.

Although Korella MCP has already worked with Belgium phosphate technology company Prayon, an alternative strategy has been pursued to utilise existing technology in Australia to develop MCP production capability. As part of this strategy CRP commissioned Monash University to work on this project.

Bench scale tests have commenced and the first step in this three-stage process has been the successful production of weak phosphoric acid (WPA).

The second step is for the WPA to be partially neutralized using slaked lime to produce soluble monohydrated MCP. In the third step the soluble monohydrated MCP is then heated at low temperature in acidic conditions to evaporate the water to crystallize the MCP.

Negotiations are underway with Monash University to use their Pilot Plant to undertake the full range of processes required to manufacture MCP.

Korella MCP will be produced to meet the highest international quality and consistency standards which will enable CRP to also supply overseas markets.

The Cloncurry site for the manufacturing facility has been selected and preparation of a Development Application to Cloncurry Shire Council is underway.

At the same time, after an initial approach to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, further discussions are expected to have the MCP project assessed for possible funding under the scheme as the development of an MCP plant in Australia is of national importance.

Executive Director, Colin Randall will present a paper entitled “The Top End Cattle Industry is dependent on MCP” to the annual Developing Northern Australia Conference being held in Darwin from 24-26 July 2023 in Darwin.

Meanwhile approaches have been made to both European and Malaysian based MCP producers to become involved in the project.

Korella MCP Pty Ltd plans to be the reliable and resilient supplier of choice for Australian consumers of quality MCP.

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