The company behind North-West Queensland’s Korella phosphate development is celebrating success in its march to become the sole Australian producer of monocalcium phosphate (MCP).

Chatham Rock Phosphate said the first step in producing MCP was a precursor weak phosphoric acid (WPA), which it has accomplished in bench scale tests at Monash University.

The company is progressing plans to use Korella ore in the production of 30,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of MCP to meet the needs of primarily the cattle industry of Northern Australia.

It has selected a Cloncurry site for the manufacturing facility, with preparation of a development application to Cloncurry Shire Council underway.

MCP – an essential part of all cattle lick blocks and cattle dry lick – is a form of phosphorus readily taken up by farmed animals to build healthy bones.

“With Australia importing all of its animal feed grade phosphorus supplements of around 50,000 tpa, the development of a Cloncurry-based manufacturing facility to produce 30,000 tpa will deliver a reliable quality product into a resilient supply chain,” Chatham said.

“The inputs for production of MCP of phosphate, limestone and sulphuric acid will, apart from sulphuric acid, be sourced from our Korella North mine. However, sulphuric acid will be manufactured on-site utilising prilled sulphur imported from Canada.”

Although the group has already worked with Belgium phosphate technology company Prayon, Chatham said an alternative strategy had been pursued to utilise existing technology in Australia to develop MCP production capability.

As part of this strategy Chatham Rock Phosphate commissioned Monash University to work on the project. 

Related: Exciting phosphate future goes beyond food security

Bench scale tests have commenced and the first step in this process has been the successful production of weak phosphoric acid (WPA).

Chatham said the second step was for the WPA to be partially neutralised using slaked lime to produce soluble monohydrated MCP. In the third step the soluble monohydrated MCP is then heated at low temperature in acidic conditions to evaporate the water to crystallize the MCP.

The company expects to have the Cloncurry MCP project assessed for possible funding under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, describing development of an MCP plant in Australia as being of national importance.

Executive director Colin Randall will present a paper entitled “The Top End Cattle Industry is dependent on MCP” to the annual Developing Northern Australia Conference being held in Darwin July 24-26.