[ 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:
- 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
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…