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Phosphate: All hopes rest on Morocco Walan et al., 2014

Phosphate: All hopes rest on Morocco Walan et al., 2014

[ My summary of paper: If you look around for what share Morocco has of phosphate reserves, you’ll see figures of 75 to 85% that will last 300-400 years.  But it’s not a done deal as Walan et al point out.

Phosphate is absolutely essential for high agricultural production, one of the “big 3” nutrients that boosts maximum crop growth (along with nitrogen and potassium). This paper points out that just like oil, it is the flow rate – how much is actually produced per year — that matters, not how much phosphate exists.

Phosphate can be “local”. For example, China and the U.S. use most of their phosphate domestically.

Morocco is the largest exporter and also has the largest deposits. So no worries?  Hopefully not, but there are factors such as below which could lower Moroccan exports:

  • War
  • Phosphate mining is very water intensive and Morroco has little, and are mining groundwater at an unsustainable rate
  • Phosphate mining is energy intense, oil shortages would disrupt production
  • Moroccan phosphate has a cadmium, which is very toxic to plants

Inevitably, the combination of rising cost will force phosphate production to peak and then decline, even in Morocco (Bardi 2009).

Extracts from this 26 page paper are below, not in order. There’s great material on the history, location, quality, and other aspects of phosphate as well.  Alice Friedemann, www.energyskeptic.com

Table 1. Main features of previous studies on phosphate rock depletion and production. * Most countries’ reserves will be depleted in less than 100 years. ** Reserve base is included in the highest reserve estimations

Table 1. Main features of previous studies on phosphate rock depletion and production.
* Most countries’ reserves will be depleted in less than 100 years.
** Reserve base is included in the highest reserve estimations

 

 

 

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