Anglo seeking buyers for Woodsmith POLY4 in Middle East, Africa

ANGLO American is seeking partners in the Middle East and Africa to do supply and distribution deals for fertiliser from its capital intensive Woodsmith project, said Reuters citing Tom McCulley, CEO of the UK group’s Crop Nutrients division.

Anglo has signed supply and distribution agrements with five companies, McCulley told the newswire. Deals so far included global grains merchant Archer-Daniels-Midland in North America, German agriculture group BayWa in Europe, and the Indian Farm Forestry Development Cooperative. The miner is also part of a low carbon fertiliser programme run by Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco.

“The limit of existing fertilisers is that they are CO2 intensive,” McCulley said. “Farmers are looking for a product that is organic and sustainable. We are the caterer for that.”

Woodsmith has the world’s largest known deposit of polyhalite, a naturally-occurring mineral containing nutrients including potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur, which it is marketing as POLY4.

Until now the mineral has only been produced in small quantities and its market is not commercially proven at scale, but Anglo American says polyhalite has the potential to improve the crop yield by 3% to 5%.

The rising global population, concern about climate change and the impact of extreme weather on arable land would boost demand will also boost demand for POLY4.

Speaking during a site visit to the mine in Britain’s North York Moors National Park, McCulley said analysts’ estimates that the total cost of the mine of around $9bn were not “too far off”, but refused to give details.

Anglo aims to produce around 5 million tons annually in the first three years from its 2027 estimated start and eventually to ramp up to full capacity of 13Mt for the 40-year plus mine.