Chemical giant aims to increase its fertiliser production capacity while committing to carbon neutrality by 2040

Morocco's OCP group emerges as a world leader in phosphates

REUTERS/YOUSSEF BOUDLAL - Mina de fosfato en la fábrica de Boucraa de la Compañía Nacional de Fosfatos de Marruecos (OCP) situada en las provincias del sur, a 100 km al suroeste de la ciudad de El Aaiún
photo_camera REUTERS/YOUSSEF BOUDLAL - Phosphate mine at the Boucraa factory of the Moroccan National Phosphate Company (OCP) in the southern provinces, 100 km southwest of the city of Laayoune.

The Moroccan group OCP is seeking to consolidate its position as a world leader in phosphates. To this end, the chemical giant has launched a 130 billion DH investment programme for the period 2023- 2027, reports Le Matin.

The aim of this initiative is to increase fertiliser production capacity while committing to carbon neutrality by 2040. In order to achieve this goal, OCP will take advantage of the Kingdom's renewable energy resources and its progress in this field in recent years.

For its part, the Moroccan group is also investing in research and innovation to diversify its products and services and explore new opportunities, particularly in the electric battery market, taking advantage of the high global demand. 

In its new strategic development programme 2023-2027, the OCP group is focused on increasing its fertiliser production capacities to meet global food security challenges while achieving carbon neutrality by 2040, thanks to significant investments in innovative green fertilisers and renewable energies.

The Green Investment Plan, which reflects Morocco's corporate commitment to sustainability, will make an overall contribution of 13 billion dollars between 2023 and 2027. The specific objective of this strategy is to increase fertiliser production capacity from the current 12 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes by 2027.

In addition, another key part of OCP's strategy is the expansion of mining capacities, which will include the opening of a new mine located in Meskala, in the Essaouira region, as well as the establishment of a new fertiliser complex in Mzinda. This production unit will process rocks from the Bengu茅rir and Youssoufia mines, as well as from the new Meskala mine.

To achieve its new ambitions, the group intends to implement several strategic operations, which involves, first and foremost, improving efficiency and increasing industrial capacity. 

Due to the growth in global fertiliser demand and the group's competitive position, OCP has, since 2008, engaged in a major investment programme aimed at anticipating future demand growth and strengthening its leading position worldwide.

The first phase of the investment programme focuses on strengthening production capacities, with the aim of doubling mining capacities and tripling chemical processing capacities. The chemical and phosphate giant has made significant investments aimed at transforming the logistics chain, as well as increasing its operational and environmental efficiency.

In the second phase, OCP plans to increase rock production to 26 million tonnes by 2030 through the development of new mines and expansion of existing mines.

The company is also increasing its fertiliser and phosphoric acid production capacities at its various sites. Specifically, by 2027, the industrial giant plans to increase its fertiliser production capacity by 8 million tonnes thanks to the addition of 3 granulation units of 1 million tonnes each in Jorf Lasfar and the development of a new chemical complex in Mzinda with a capacity of 4.2 million tonnes. The construction of a new chemical complex in Laayoune with a capacity of 1 million tonnes is also planned until 2025.

In addition to Morocco, the company intends to continue its development in Africa, the continent that is expected to experience the world's strongest growth in terms of fertiliser demand in the coming years according to the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA). Indeed, the OCP group will continue to increase its sales on the continent and has even committed to invest in new capacities in Africa, for example in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda. 

OCP secures its cost leadership 

Another strength of the OCP group is that it is one of the lowest cost players in the phosphate industry. As part of its strategy, OCP claims to be actively engaged in continuously improving operational efficiency and reducing the cost of its operations - particularly in its mining and transportation activities - by adopting new processes, procedures and technologies.

For example, the use of pipeline instead of rail for transporting rock significantly reduces the group's logistics costs. It also strengthens its position in the value chain through strategic partnerships.  

PHOTO/FILE - La empresa OCP en Marruecos

In 2018, OCP established a strategic alliance with Fertinagro Biotech, SL, a Spanish company specialising in the commercialisation of innovative solutions in plant nutrition. This partnership helps the company advance its strategic goal of creating innovative fertilisation solutions, adapted to different soils and crops, as well as meeting the needs of farmers around the world.

The group has also opened offices and subsidiaries in various parts of the world such as China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United States, Brazil, India and Argentina. These entities strengthen the company's position in the field of fertiliser products worldwide and its presence in key markets. 

OCP explores new options such as phosphogypsum 

Furthermore, the OCP group is committed to sustainably exploiting the full potential of its resources and capabilities. To this end, the company intends to focus on improving the way it exploits its reserves, capabilities and human capital, as well as developing new activities and new services involving technology-based expertise, engineering, consulting and analysis, as well as maintenance and machinery.

OCP is currently studying innovative options for the valorisation of phosphogypsum such as applications for agriculture and construction materials. These monetisation possibilities therefore offer the group the opportunity to diversify and sustainably manage its waste. 

Commitment to the environment 

The group also claims to be strongly committed to sustainable exploitation in order to protect food security and the resilience of global agriculture.

"Because of its inherently sustainable activity, the OCP group has always placed sustainability at the heart of its strategy and development projects," the company says.

This commitment was reflected in the first investment programme carried out from 2012 to 2021, marked by the proactive management of environmental impact and the support provided to the local industrial fabric, as well as to neighbouring communities.

In addition to committing to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040, the group is renewing its ambition of water self-sufficiency by 2024 and is also committed to ensuring that 100% of its electricity needs come from renewable or clean sources by 2027. 

PHOTO/FILE - Energ铆a e贸lica en Marruecos

In particular, the company aims to produce 5 GW of clean energy (wind and solar) by 2027. This renewable energy capacity will also be used for the production of green ammonia. In this respect, the group aims to reach a production of 1 million tonnes of green ammonia by 2027 and 3 million tonnes by 2032.

Under the Green Investment Programme, the group also secured a 100 million euro loan from the IFC to finance the group's solar projects and build four solar photovoltaic power plants to power the group's facilities in Morocco.

The facilities, with a total capacity of 202 megawatts, will be built near the mining towns of Bengu茅rir in the Rehamna region and Khouribga, 120 kilometres southeast of the economic capital Casablanca.

With regard to sustainability and environmental protection, the group intends to pursue the goal of being a major global provider of soil fertility solutions. 

To achieve this, OCP intends to develop a series of customised products and services that provide added value to farmers by responding to new trends and new challenges facing the agricultural industry, such as the development of digital technologies or environmental awareness.

In fact, the group first implemented its approach in Africa, developing customised products, offering services and digital tools to better support agriculture in the region. The strong growth on the continent affirms the group's ambition to be a partner of African agriculture and development through its subsidiary OCP Africa. This strategy aims at a fertiliser product that is better adapted to local soils and crops.

In addition, since 2018, OCP has launched the "Al Moutmir" agricultural development initiative, a multi-service offering that includes innovative and customised solutions to support farmers. 

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