Water Leach Purification a sustainable alternative for imported rock phosphate, Lynas says

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd says Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue, an iron phosphate generated by its plant, can be used as a source of phosphate in fertilisers and soil conditioners, to help reduce the imports of rock phosphate.

Lynas general manager, radiation safety, regulations and compliance Prof Ismail Bahari said according to a study conducted by Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Prof Mohammed Hanafi Musa, who specialises in soil chemistry and plant nutrition, WLP residue contains an equivalent of 34-49.4 per cent P2O2 (Diphosphorus Dioxide).

“This value is higher or equivalent to several sources of phosphate rock materials or water-soluble phosphate sources (Triple Super Phosphate). Christmas Island Phosphate Rock, China Phosphate Rock, Egyptian Phosphate Rock and TSP contain 31 per cent, 32 per cent, 28 per cent, and 46 per cent, respectively,” he said in a statement here today.

Every year, Malaysia imports rock phosphate, or phosphorite, to be used as feedstock for fertilisers. According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, in 2018, Malaysia imported 357,531 tonnes of fertilisers containing phosphorite at a cost of US$27.52 million (approximately RM114.93 million).

“The main consumer of fertilisers in Malaysia is the palm oil industry. Innovation is required to improve both yields and profitability of palm oil planters. The most affected are smallholders who would be the main beneficiary of improved yields,” he said.

In terms of radioactivity, WLP residue, Phosphate Rock and even phosphate fertilisers have been shown to contain low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material.

The radioactivity in WLP residue is comparable to those found in Phosphate Rock and phosphate fertilisers. Phosphate fertilisers have been repeatedly applied in agriculture since it was first discovered. The use of WLP residue as a phosphate source could reduce the reliance on imported rock phosphate.

Following the Mid-Term Review of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan in October 2018, the government has stated its commitment to “Enhancing environmental sustainability through green growth” and “Strengthening economic growth” as two of the six pillars.

Lynas’ locally produced WLP can provide an alternative and sustainable option to importing significant quantities of rock phosphates and phosphate fertilisers, he added. — Bernama

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