In cooperation with AFA Tunisian member companies: Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa, Groupe Chimique Tunisien, Tunisian-Indian Fertilizers Company, Granuphos Company and Al-Kimia Company, AFA held Workshop on “Phosphogypsum: Challenges and Opportunities”, in Tunisia, during the period 23 – 25 April 2014. The Workshop highlighted the challenges and opportunities witnessed by AFA phosphate producing member companies. The Workshop main goal was to identify long term, safe and sustainable solutions for phosphogypsum management and usage. Moreover, the Workshop pinpointed the financial, social and environmental requirements needed for the achievement of success in the said field. In this concern, AFA resorted to the assistance of the international think tank “ALEFF Group”. The sessions were conveyed by Aleff Group’ Chairman Dr. Julian Hilton together with Professor Rafael Tenorio. The workshop tackled the following key issues: - Safety and sustainability. - Phosphogypsum cycle including a related overview, cases studies and good practices. - Comprehensive Conclusion: Technical opportunities and new work models. Mr. Al Sarayrah: Historical Roots of Tunisia Phosphate Fertilizers Industry Provided Tunisia with the Capability of Possessing Advanced Technological Paths and Internationally Recognized Rich know-how in Phosphate Industry The Workshop was inaugurated by a welcome speech delivered by Mr. Jamal Al Sarayrah, AFA Board Chairman, expressed his appreciation to all parties, contributing in the preparation and organization of such an important Workshop, particularly AFA Tunisian member companies. Mr. Sarayrah stressed on the fact that the treatment of industrial wastes, with their three different forms namely liquid, solid and gas, is a humanitarian mission taken in consideration by phosphate fertilizer industrial leaderships. He further stated that AFA seizes the opportunity of such a workshop to express its keenness upon protecting the environment from industrial wastes, especially the phosphogypsum, being an incidental result of phosphoric acid industry. The advanced status achieved by Tunisian companies in this regard was also mentioned; the matter providing such with the capability to host this important Workshop. The Historical roots of Tunisia phosphate fertilizers industry, going back to 1895, provided Tunisia with the capability to possess advanced technological paths and internationally recognized rich know-how in phosphate industry. Therefore, convening this Workshop in Tunisia is considered a serious stride ahead, new addition to and value for phosphate fertilizers industry participants. Mr. Sarayrah highlighted that AFA slogan is the “Human being comes first”; environment and health are AFA priorities. At the end of his speech, Mr. Sarayrah wished the Workshop, through the present rich experience and brainstorming sessions, to reach recommendations for long term solutions, determined safe and sustainable directions, successful methods for phosphogypsum usage and sound ways to identify financial and human requirements in order to successfully protect the human being and environment without affecting phosphate factories economies. He then extended his thanks to the Republic of Tunisia and the supporting phosphate companies participating in the Workshop, ALEF Group and the International Expert Dr. Julian Hilton for the distinguished scientific participation and exerted efforts. Mr. Mrabet: Within the framework of the Environmental Rehabilitation system, Group Chimique Tunisien paid due concern to Phosphogypsum handling and treatment processes At the outset of his speech, Mr. Mohamed Najib Mrabet, President and Director General of Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa, Groupe Chimique Tunisien, Tunisian-Indian Fertilizers Company emphasized upon the great importance of phosphogypsum issue and methods of dealing with such a material, which became an essential resource used in various fields, including inter alia: cement industry, construction materials, land stability … etc. He further added that studies, researches and experiments conducted in this regard proved the aforementioned usages, in addition to underscoring the fact that such a resource lacks the adverse environmental impacts that were previously circulated. Also, such a material transportation and raising technologies have witnessed advanced developments enabling the safe transportation and storage of such material in specifically prepared areas, and that prior to being used in the formerly mentioned fields. In such a framework, Mr. Mrabet called upon industrialists and financial institutions to be informed with such an issue and support projects using phosphogypsum as a raw material, after being considered as industrial wastes. He also underlined that in the framework of the environmental rehabilitation system, Tunisian Chemical Group has paid due concern to phosphogypsum handling and treatment processes, via taking a number of procedures comprising the following: - Preparing storage areas and restoring the flowing water - Refraining from pumping phosphogpsum in the sea He added saying that they wish to move soon forward to the application phase, in cooperation with all stakeholders, and after the completion of all environmental and technical studies related to the treatment process. Mr. Kefi: This industry plays a pivotal role in fertilizing agricultural lands aiming at providing food for the Earth population Mr. Hedhili Kefi, AFA Board Member and Granuphos Company Chairman, started his speech by extending, on behalf of AFA members, all appreciation to Tunisian accompanies working in fertilizers field, namely Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa, Groupe Chimique Tunisien, Tunisian-Indian Fertilizers Company, Granuphos Company and Al-Kimia. Mr. Kefi then mentioned that Arab fertilizer industry is occupying a distinct status among related counterparts, being characterized by a number of privileges enhancing its present and future position. Moreover, the myriad strategic stock of phosphate mines and the provision of natural gas stock are considered the backbone of fertilizers and related types industry. This industry plays a pivotal role in fertilizing agricultural lands aiming at providing food for the Earth population, which requires paying additional concern to soil and human health. Also, environment management and the protection of phosphate fertilizer industry surroundings are considered dire needs in order to face the challenges encountering the adequate feeding of the world increasing population together with the escalation of natural resources scarcity. In this context Mr. Kefi quoted FAO vice General Director words saying that: “The importance of soil for food security is a well-known fact. Since the dawn of history, in the early agricultural societies, and until now we were capable of witnessing how societies flourish as a result of healthy soil and how they deteriorated because of losing the fertility of soil.” Healthy soil fulfills various functions; soil is a significant factor for healthy surface and underground waters together with a healthy ecological system. Within such a framework, phosphate fertilizers companies pay a great attention to the following: 1. The management, handling, treatment and beneficiation processes of phosphogypsum, bearing in mind the environmental dimension and the amounts being handled annually. 2. The sound management and protection of environment, being a main pillar for the comprehensive social and economic development targeting the service of citizens. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to the environment from the very beginning of designing, primary engineering and expanding production units phases. It is noteworthy that challenges facing international fertilizer industry are represented in enacting commercial and environmental laws by countries and international organizations and associations, which should be taken in consideration when setting production and marketing strategies. This event, organized by AFA nowadays, came as a realization to AFA 2014 action plan, being one of the events through which AFA aspires to create a close relationship between fertilizer industry from one side and environment, with its broader meaning, from the other side. In addition, such a scientific event has provided a distinct framework to highlight the latest international developments in the field of phosphogypsum management and beneficiation. Successful experiences for using such a material in agriculture could be cited from Spain, Brazil and India. It is worth noting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published recently a more positive report on safety in phosphate industries, dated April 2013. IAEA emphasized by reviewed evidences that safe usage of phosphosgypsum represents a more sustainable solution and less environmental risky than the indefinite stacking operations of such a material. Some of the safe phosphogypsum usages, in addition to agricultural ones, could be in construction materials, for example tiles and others. At the end of his speech, Mr. Kefi extended warm thanks to: · Mr. Mohamed Najib Mrabit, President & Director General of Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa, Groupe Chimique Tunisien, Tunisian-Indian Fertilizers Company for his strenuous efforts to boost AFA path, following up all of the Workshop organization phases and enriching the event by the systematic interventions. · Tunisian Companies: Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa, Groupe Chimique Tunisien, Tunisian-Indian Fertilizers Company for the continuous support to AFA; wishing them together with the rest of participants successful discussions and the achievement of workshop goals. One hundred and ten participants contributed in the Workshop proceedings representing AFA member companies from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Iraq and Morocco.
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