Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser shortage looms

11 Dec, 2016 - 00:12 0 Views
Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser shortage looms

The Sunday News


Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Farming Correspondent
THE country’s sole manufacturer of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertiliser, Sable Chemical Industries is struggling to import strategic raw material for the production of one of the most essential inputs in crop production.

Sable Chemical Industries chief executive officer Mr Bothwell Nyajeka said his company was failing to import sufficient ammonia, a critical component in the manufacturing of AN fertiliser due to limited financial resources.

The company requires 60 000 tonnes of ammonia annually and currently operates at 50 percent due to the shortage of the component.

“We are producing 120 000 tonnes annually but we have the production capacity of 240 000 tonnes of AN annually.

“Our major challenge is capital. We abandoned the electrolysis method of producing AN because it was consuming a lot of energy and we are still weighing our options with one being the coalbed methane project. However, I cannot say much on the progress of the project,” said Mr Nyajeka.

The company has resorted to utilising its AN manufacturing plant which consumes 10 megawatts (MW) compared to the more efficient electrolysis plants which uses 115 (MW).
At its peak, the Kwekwe-based firm consumed 80 MW before it scaled down to 40MW late last year after shutting down five out of 10 electrolysis units.
Sables Chemical Industries owes Zesa Holdings over $100 million.
The low production of AN, which is also known as top dressing fertiliser is a threat to the country’s efforts of attaining an optimum crop yield in the 2016/17 farming season.

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