Company Hopes to Fill Gap with B.C. Phosphate Mine

Fertoz would note that the article discusses our total rock phosphate available to us in North America and discusses our focus on Canadian farmers. All of our rock sources were totalled to provide the 10,000,000 tonnes number.

Fertoz extracts phosphate from its mining operation in Fernie, B.C. | Fertoz photo

The skyrocketing price of fertilizer is also seeing a reanalyzing of supply chains and how to provide the compounds required to best grow crops while doing it in a sustainable manner.

Sean Gatin, vice-president at Fertoz, said his company’s rock phosphate mining operations and products are targeting those goals. The company is operating a small surface mine in the Fernie, B.C., region, that extracts sedimentary rock phosphates as well as another operation pending permitting approval in Wapiti in the Peace River area of the province.

“We don’t need rail cars, we don’t need ships,” Gatin said. “It’s a very efficient phosphate in terms of dollars per pound of P with these skyrocketing prices.”

The phosphate produced can be mixed with conventional fertilizer products and also used in organic and regenerative operations.

Gatin said there aren’t a lot of options for organic agriculture, “so we offer a real strategic initiative for those growers who want to add phosphate to their soil in a positive way.”

Fertoz also operates a mine in Butte, Montana, which also serves the western Canadian market.

“We have about 10 million tonnes of soft-rock, sedimentary rock phosphate — that’s high-quality, low carbon footprint — to supply to the western Canadian market,” said Gatin.

He said the extraction process accesses phosphate seams measuring about three metres wide by up to a kilometre close to the surface using low-intensity methods and machinery while not chemically processing the ore.

It’s an important part of the method for the company, which produces organic fertilizers that also focuses on a low overall impact to the environment.

“There are no chemicals, there is no processing, there is no tailings pond, there is no high-usage of water to extract — it’s a seam excavated surgically,” Gatin said of Fertoz’s mining process.

As for the product, Gatin said Fertoz’s domestic production of phosphate is anticipated to expand, propelled by recent world events, which have caused disruptions in supply chains.

“For our Fernie product, we actually do the crushing and screening in Fort MacLeod (Alta.),” said Gatin, pointing out delivery from that facility is measured in hours on the road rather than days at sea.

While Fertoz’s fertilizer product prices are affected by increasing input costs, it is far less than is being faced by overseas competitors in the marketplace or by world events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Gatin.

“Geo-political events make having domestically sourced phosphate that’s not chemically or high-energy manufactured a benefit, definitely,” he said.

Like most products today, cost increases for fuel and labour are hitting the business, but Gatin said the company is focused on only increasing its prices in line with production costs.

“First of all, our prices are pretty low,” said Gatin. “As far as our manufacturing costs go, we’ve kept these increases to under 20 percent.”

That’s compared to some fertilizer products that have doubled in cost, he said.

“We intend on growing our customer base by showing our growers that we’re not just going to double the price of our products because the market says that’s what’s going on,” said Gatin.

Gatin said that coupled with the net positives of phosphates, Fertoz’s products provide calcium and silica to improve plant defences, it’s free of soil-damaging salts and can lessen water runoff.

“Those type of things contributes to what the regenerative and sustainable guys are going for,” he said. “Better soil health.”

Fertoz is a Canadian-based company with operations in the United States and Australia.

It’s publicly traded on the Australian stock market.

Link to original article: Company hopes to fill gap with B.C. phosphate mine | The Western Producer

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