GoSL mulls possibility to set up plants
By Paneetha Ameresekere
Sri Lanka’s annual requirement of phosphate fertilizer, for both rice and plantations cultivation is 200,000 MT, State-owned Phosphate Ltd., General Manager (GM) H.R.M.D. Bandara said
Of this quantity, 50,000 MT are annually applied/used for plantations led by coconut and the balance (150,000 MT) for rice cultivation. While what is used for coconut plantations is rock phosphate, what is however required for rice cultivation is single super phosphates (SSP), a derivative of rock phosphate.
Eppawala, home for the country’s rock phosphates, has a total deposit base of 60 million metric tons of rock phosphates, Bandara said. Conversion of rock phosphate to SSP is required in the ratio of 0.624 to one, with the rest of the weight supplied by sulphuric acid (H2SO4) required in this process.
Sri Lanka doesn’t manufacture (H2SO4) which has to be imported. Further, though Sri Lanka is rich in rock phosphates, mined from Eppawala, it however doesn’t manufacture SSP required for rice cultivation. Therefore, the required SSP for rice cultivation is imported from China at an annual cost of Rs 10 billion.
To overcome this shortcoming, the Industries Ministry has called for applications from prospective consultants to advise it to set up both an H2SO4 manufacturing plant as well as an SSP manufacturing plant. The cost of an H2SO4 manufacturing plant, where only the raw sulphur needs to be imported for its operations is between Rs five to six billion, while the other plant required to convert rock phosphate to SSP would cost another Rs 1.5 - 2 billion. This capital cost would be borne by the Government.