Phosphorus is an essential element required for plant, animal and human life.
Phosphate rock is not rare; however it is a non-renewable resource. It is produced in over forty countries in the world, with China, the United States and Morocco the largest producing nations accounting for approximately 68% of global production. Active mining also occurs in Russia, Tunisia, Jordan, Brazil, Israel, South Africa, Syria, Togo and Senegal, with minor production elsewhere.
Currently about 90% of world phosphate rock production is used by the fertiliser industry to manufacture phosphate fertilisers, with the remainder being used to manufacture animal feeds, detergent and chemicals. In recent years the increased need for world food production has assured the long-term growth of world phosphate rock demand.
Christmas Island Rock Phosphate (CIRP) was formed by slow phosphatisation of the parent sedimentary and volcanic rocks over millions of years. The Island is made up of volcanic rocks interbedded with coral limestone, and has been subjected to several phases of uplifting, forming a central plateau at an elevation of 200-350 metres above sea level.
Christmas Island Rock Phosphate's combination of fluorohydroxyapatite, calcium iron and aluminium phosphates make it a highly sought-after phosphate product, which provides benefits in a range of fertiliser manufacturing processes. Its relatively high total phosphorus oxide (P2O5) level improves the analysis of many straight and compound fertilisers, and its iron and aluminium content improves the granule strength of a range of acidulated fertilisers. In addition, its reactive characteristics provide advantages for compacted fertilisers that do not undergo chemical processes.