Phosphate Rock’s Chosen Few

Phosphate Rock’s Chosen Few

As the US phosphate rock market grows more consolidated each year, new firms find it increasingly difficult to overcome barriers to entry.

Limited Opportunities

The US market for phosphate rock is served by domestic production and, to a much lesser extent, by imports. Most phosphate rock mining companies are vertically integrated into the production of phosphate-based products such as fertilizers and animal feed supplements. In the case of Monsanto, the company’s phosphate rock mining operations primarily feed the production of its Roundup glyphosate-based herbicides.

Of the eleven phosphate rock mines active in the US in 2017, five were located in Florida, four in Idaho, and one each in North Carolina and Utah. Companies with phosphate rock mining operations in Florida included Mosaic, with four facilities, and PotashCorp with one. Of the four total phosphate rock mining operations located in Caribou County, Idaho, Agrium operated one, Monsanto operated two, and Simplot operated one. In North Carolina, PotashCorp mined phosphate rock at its Aurora site, and in Utah, Simplot conducts operations at its Vernal mine site.

A Rare Opening

The ongoing trend toward consolidation in the fertilizer industry has reduced the number of companies mining phosphate rock in the US from ten in 2000 to five in 2017, as producers seek greater efficiencies to improve finances and compete on a global scale.

In March 2014, Mosaic completed the acquisition of the phosphate business of CF Industries. The sale resulted in Mosaic gaining – among other things – a phosphate mine, beneficiation plant, and a manufacturing facility. The effects of acquisitions and mergers are widespread throughout the industry: Bayer is currently in the process of acquiring Monsanto, and in January 2018 industry leaders PotashCorp and Agrium merged into a new entity, Nutrien.

Despite this, the total number of companies will remain at five in 2018. This is because Agrium’s Conda, Idaho phosphate rock operation was sold to Itafos in November 2017, opening the door for Itafos – a producer of phosphate-based fertilizers and specialty products – to enter the US phosphate rock market in 2018. With a limited number of active mine sites and facilities, new firms struggle to enter the market until a rare opportunity to step in as a competitor arises.

Want to Learn More?

Don’t worry, we have you covered! For additional information and analysis of US industry trends, see Phosphate Rock: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2022 US phosphate rock demand and mine production in metric tons. Total demand is segmented by market in terms of:

  • diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilizer
  • monoammonium phosphate (MAP) fertilizer
  • other fertilizers such as triple superphosphate (TSP) and ammonium polyphosphate
  • animal feed
  • other markets such as food and beverage, and industrial applications

While you’re there, check out some of our related reports, which include:

About the Author

Chris Dyer is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.