--Mosaic announces joint venture phosphate fertilizer project
--To spend up to $1 billion on project, own 25%
--Saudi Arabia project expected to open in 2016
By Ian Berry
Fertilizer maker Mosaic Co. (>> Mosaic Co) said Tuesday it plans to invest up to $1 billion in a joint venture in Saudi Arabia to produce phosphate, a move that would improve its access to agricultural markets in Asia.
Mosaic plans to team up with two Saudi Arabian companies on the $7 billion project. Under terms of the agreement, mining and metals company Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (>> Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden)), or Maaden, would own 60%, Mosaic would own 25% and petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (>> Saudi Basic Industries Corporation), or Sabic, would own 15%.
The project, which would be built in northern Saudi Arabia, would give Plymouth, Minn.-based Mosaic an advantage in shipping fertilizer to India and elsewhere in Asia, Mosaic Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko said.
The effort would complement Mosaic's existing phosphate operations, which are concentrated in Florida and Louisiana. Mosaic is one of the world's largest phosphate fertilizer producers.
"There's been relatively little investment in new phosphate capacity over a number of years," Mr. Prokopanko said in an interview.
Mosaic said it would help design, construct and operate the new facilities. The project would include a mine and complex that produces phosphate fertilizers and animal feeds, among other products. Mr. Prokopanko said the integrated nature of the project made it attractive.
The companies expect to finalize the agreement in the first half of this year. The facilities are expected to produce approximately 3.5 million metric tons of phosphate-related products starting in late 2016.
The project would be similar to an existing joint venture between Maaden and Sabic. That 3 million-metric ton facility started production in 2011. While that project fueled worries that the market would become saturated, Mr. Prokopanko said demand has kept up with growing supplies.
Mosaic Chief Financial Officer Larry Stranghoener said the cash investment of up to $1 billion, which would be paid over four years, is "manageable" financially, and "still leaves us plenty of flexibility to do other things."
Write to Ian Berry at email@example.com
Corrections & Amplifications
This item was corrected at 11:24 a.m. EST to fix the spelling of Saudi Arabia. The original incorrectly stated Saudia Arabia.