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PHOSPHATE

  • Phosphate
  • Mines Producing Phosphate

Phosphate is vital to the survival of agriculture where 90 percent of the world's production is consumed. It is also widely used in the community for a variety of purposes ranging from animal feed supplements, baking powder, insecticides, water treatment, fungicides and insecticides.


Phosphate is Vital to the Agricultural Industry
There is no substitute for phosphate in the agricultural industry as plants require three major nutrients for survival, these being; potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous. Phosphorous is used by plants for the purpose of controlling energy storage and transfer within their cells as well as their metabolic processes.


Australia's Biggest Commercial Production of Phosphate Comes from Christmas Island and Phosphate Hill
Phosphate is commonly sourced from phosphate rock which is basically a marine sedimentary deposit. It is also derived from the accumulation of bat or bird excrement. In Australia most commercial resources of phosphate are found at Phosphate Hill in Queensland's north west near Mt Isa and at Christmas Island.


The Christmas Island deposit is rock phosphate that is mined and exported to the Asia Pacific area where it is used mainly as fertiliser in the palm oil industry. Phosphate Hill is a world class phosphate rock deposit that is easy to mine because it is so close to the surface. It is used for the manufacturing of mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) and di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) that is used for fertilisers for both international and domestic use. Other places where phosphate is mined in Australia are:
- Queensland - Paradise South, Paradise North
- Northern Territory – Wonarah, Nolans Bore and Ammarroo
- Western Australia – Mount Weld


Uses of Phosphate:
- The treatment of metal surfaces to inhibit corrosion
- As a flame retardent
- In the manufacturing of ceramics
- Water treatment
- Domestic dishwasher detergents
- Industrial detergents
- Industrial cleaning products
- As an ingredient in soft drinks, bakery products, meat and dairy products
- Animal feed supplements
- Fertilisers, for use in both agricultural crops as well as in domestic gardens. Often sourced from treated sewage


World Consumption of Phosphate is Fast Reducing World Reserves
In 2007 it was estimated that, by taking into account the then consumption of phosphate worldwide, there were sufficient resources to last for the next 345 years. Since then however world consumption has increased to such a level it is not now expected to last for more than the next 50 to 100 years, with peak usage occurring in 30 years time. In 2012 it was estimated there were 71 billion tonnes of phosphate held in reserves throughout the world, while figures for 2011 recorded a figure of 0.19 billion tonnes being mined globally for that year.


Phosphate does make up around 0.1 percent of the average rock and between 0.03 and 0.2 percent in vegetation and basically unlimited amounts in the Earth's crust but these are all at levels below that to be considered as reserves. There are some phosphate rocks that contain significant quantities of radioactive isotopes. This is important as it gives the radioactivity the opportunity to be released into surface water when being applied to land as fertiliser.
 

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