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Tunisia to scale up phosphate production

The Mdhilla phosphate production plant in Tunisia. The industry contributes 4% of Tunisia's GDP Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi
The Mdhilla phosphate production plant in Tunisia. The industry contributes 4% of Tunisia's GDP
  • $76m investment programme
  • New equipment for state company
  • Sector makes up 15% of Tunisian exports

Tunisia’s state-owned phosphate company is getting ready to ramp up production as part of its TD235 million ($76 million) investment programme.

Next month the Gafsa Phosphate Company (CPG) will receive the first batch of machinery, including equipment to increase its capacity to transport raw phosphate and extract commercial phosphate.

It will also take delivery of 18 60-tonne trucks, six hydraulic machines, three rotary machines and six 4.5-cubic-metre wheel loaders, all bought for TD65 million.

CPG also plans to announce a tender next month for the purchase of a new batch of machinery and equipment worth TD183 million, according to a report by the Agence Tunis Afrique Presse.

This will include 36 large and medium-sized machines, trucks, rotary and hydraulic excavators and other equipment.

As part of the multi-million dollar investment programme, which will run until 2024, the company aims to renew 30 percent of its fleet of mining equipment. This will increase its capacity to extract raw phosphate from open-cast mines in Oum Larayes, Metlaoui, Mdhilla and Redayef.

The phosphates sector makes up around 4 percent of Tunisia’s GDP and 15 percent of the North African country’s exports.

Tunisia was the fifth largest producer worldwide in 2008, but the sector has witnessed a significant decline due in part to social tensions and protests in the region.

Work at the site of Oum Larayes started up again in February after a year of interruption caused by repeated sit-ins in a unit where annual production is estimated at 600,000 tonnes.

The Gafsa Basin accounts for over 90 percent of Tunisia’s phosphate rock production.

Commercial production of phosphate did not exceed 3.5 million tonnes between 2011 and 2022, compared to 8 million tonnes in 2010.

The country is looking to double phosphate output to 8 million tonnes by 2024.

As well as its use as a raw material in fertilisers, phosphate has also become a key component in battery production, particularly in lithium ferro phosphate batteries.

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