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ASX-listed phosphate developer Minbos Resources will collaborate with the International Fertilizer Development Centre on further greenhouse trials of the phosphate rock blend from the Cabinda phosphate project in Angola.

The Minbos vision is to build a nutrient supply and distribution business that stimulates agricultural production and promotes food security in Angola and the broader Congo Basin.

The company’s plan is to mine phosphate rock from the Cácata Deposit and transport it to the Porto de Caio where all the necessary electricity, gas, water and shipping infrastructure exists to build and operate a granulation plant to produce enhanced phosphate rock granules (phosphate rock + mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP).

The enhanced phosphate rock granules will become the P nutrient feedstock to blend with imported nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) granules in NPK blending plants to exact specifications suited to Angolan crops and soils.

To ensure the Cabinda blend is suited to Angolan crops and soils, the company has engaged the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) to complete an advanced greenhouse trial.

READ MORE: Minbos makes key appointment for Angolan phosphate project

The greenhouse trials, to be undertaken at the IFDC campus in Alabama, have the potential to enhance the value-in-use of the Cabinda phosphate rock blend, or Cabinda Blend, and improve project economics.

Previous greenhouse trials completed by the IFDC confirmed that Cabinda phosphate rock blended with MAP, known as the Cabinda blend, returned similar agronomic performance to MAP in crops and soils typical for Angola.

The trials demonstrated positive agronomic outcomes, including:

  • A Starter Effect boost provided by the MAP content to promote early root development and plant growth;
  • An Enhancement Effect provided by the acidity of MAP and complemented by acid soils and plant rhizosphere to stimulate the dissolution of the Cabinda phosphate rock, and
  • An Economic Benefit, with Cabinda blend significantly cheaper than commercial water soluble phosphate (WSP) fertilizers, MAP and diammonium phosphate (DAP).

Significantly, previous greenhouse trials have demonstrated the potential for the Cabinda blend to have a greater economic benefit than previously understood with 2nd and 3rd crops revealing a residual effect (benefits to subsequent crops from an initial application). The residual effect of phosphate from phosphate rock is recognised in academic literature and would boost the economic potential of the Cabinda blend.

The new greenhouse trials, to be undertaken in Alabama, have been designed to evaluate the Cabinda blend in local soils on soybean-wheat-sorghum crops grown in sequence to maturity to test several research comparisons including:

  • Determining the residual effect of Cabinda phosphate rock on grain yield and phosphate uptake with three crops grown sequentially to maturity in the same pots;
  • Estimating a minimum MAP concentration required to generate the Starter Effect, and
  • Evaluating the advantage of granulated versus tableted (compacted) product.

The current field trial in Huambo, Angola, designed by Plant Nutrition Science and Technology (NPCT) in Brazil and co-ordinated by the Angolan Institute of Agronomic Investigations (IIA), is ongoing, the crops have been harvested and the crop yields are being weighed. The objective of this trial was to prove the effectiveness of the Cabinda blend in Angolan field conditions. Field Trials for the next growing season are being planned in collaboration with NPCT, IFDC and the IIA to compare the Cabinda blend to commercially available fertilizers.

The IFDC is one of the world’s leading fertilizer research and development organisations and a key technology partner for Minbos, facilitating the development of an innovative fertilizer product that is tailored to meet the growing agricultural demand of middle Africa. Fertilizer consumption on the African continent is set to grow 79% by 2030, reaching 13.6 Mt by 2030 compared to 7.6 Mt currently. Importantly, international fertilizer companies have recognized the incredible growth and population trajectory of Africa, with multibillion-dollar fertilizer investments:

  • 2017 – Indorama invests US$1.5 billion in a fertilizer plant in Nigeria.
  • 2016 – OCP invests US$3.7 billion in a fertilizer plant in Ethiopia.
  • 2016 – Toyota Tsusho commissioned a new large-scale (150 000 tpa) fertilizer blending plant in Kenya to service Kenya and Tanzania.

“Previous Greenhouse and Field Trials have proved to be an important and independent measuring stick for the agronomic potential of Cabinda Phosphate Rock,” says Minbos Resources CEO Lindsay Reed.

“To have the IFDC, NPCT and IIA all involved in the design and implementation of the trials delivers world-class fertilizer research and development expertise to our fertilizer development and an important third-party validation of its potential.

“Logistics costs and limited domestic production means low fertilizer use in Middle Africa and crop yields significantly below that of other regions.

“Being able to produce a locally mined, manufactured, and distributed fertilizer tailored for local soils will have a significant economic benefit to a region where agriculture is the primary source of income,” says Reed.

He highlights that 90% of the 9.6 million Angolans living in rural areas and 44% of Angola’s 30.8 million population are employed in agriculture. Our product takes natural phosphate rock and displaces expensive and less environmentally friendly WSP with a locally produced product, tailored to a large and growing market hungry for fertilizer.