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US-based Bunge's fertilizer division is investing 120mn reais (US$65.9mn) to expand phosphate output at its Araxá mine in Brazil's Minas Gerais state, company mining director Vicente Lôbo Cruz said during the V underground and open pit mine congress in Belo Horizonte.
The operation also produces sulfuric acid and was purchased from state miner CBMM. The company expects production to increase to 1.65Mt/y.
"Our production in Araxá today is around 1Mt/y. The first phase of [expansion] works is already concluded," said Cruz.
Cruz said 85% of phosphate production is headed to the fertilizer market and that Latin American demand, mostly from Brazil, is growing two times faster than global demand. Brazil accounts for 90% of Latin American demand.
Potassium, another fertilizer-related mineral, is mostly used in agriculture, though reserves are located 400m underground.
"Few countries produce potassium, while in contrast 150 countries consume the nutrient," Cruz said.
Brazil is the world's fourth largest consumer of fertilizers but represents just 2% of global production. China is the top consumer accounting for 32%.