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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)

Stowasser, W.F.
Phosphate rock,   pp. 1027-1041 ff. PDF (1.6 MB)

Page 1027

  1027Phosphate Rock 
By W. F. Stowasser' 
 Data for 1972 indicated that demand in the world for phosphate rock exceeded
production for the second consecutive year. Estimated world sales in 1972
were 8% higher than sales in 1971. A significant recluction in world stocks
reflected efforts to supply the strong demand that developed in 1972 
 The average unit value of domestic phosphate rock declined from $5.24 in
1971 to $5.09 per ton f.o.b. plant, in 1972. Reasons for the price decline
in a period of exceptionally high demand for phosphate rock were not clear.
It was speculated that if contracts written in 1970 or the first half of
1971, when prices were depressed, remained in effect through 1912, the increase
in domestic and foreign demand would not be reflected by higher prices. The
' effect of Phase II price controls during 1972 restrained domestic prices
and was in part responsible for shifting sales of phosphate rock into the
more profitable export market. However, increased competition from North
African phosphate rock producers limited phosphate rock price increases in
world markets. 
 Although the demand for phosphatic fertilizers was strong, the demand for
elemental phosphorus for industrial purposes was depressed because of restrictions
on permissible levels of sodium tripolyphosphate in detergents. 
Legislation and Government Programs 
—The emphasis of legislative and Government actions was directed toward
environmental problems. The Federal Bureau of Mines met with the Board of
Directors of the Florida Phosphate Council in response to the phosphate industry's
request for Federal aid to find a solution to the phosphate slime dewatering
problem. The Bureau of Mines proposed research programs supported by a cost-sharing
agreement. The proposal was accepted. The program is described in the technology
section of this chapter. 
 The Governor of Florida signed into law, bills providing for coordinated
management of Florida's water resources, purchase of environmentally endangered
forests, and State control of land use development. The "Florida Environmental
Land and Water Management Act of 1972" will have an effect on the phosphate
mining industry. The section on water management gives the Department of
Natural Resources the power to conserve, protect, and manage all the waters
of the State. The Department of Natural Resources will establish a State-wide
water use plan that will impose regulations on well drilling and all consumptive
uses of water. The land use section allows the State to purchase or rigidly
control development of about 5% of the State's land area. These lands will
be designated to be of critical concern to the State and be protected. 
 The Florida Pollution Control Board adopted safety regulations designed
to prevent damaging slime spills from holding ponds associated with phosphate
rock processing operations. The Board tightened requirements for construction,
operation, and maintenance of dams designed to retain the slimes from the
phosphate ore washing plants. The new rules set minimum standards on the
dams and emphasized intensive surveillance by State inspectors. 
 In the suit filed by the Florida Department of Pollution in Polk County
Circuit Court, after a slime pond dam broke on December 3, 1971, $10 million
in compensation damages and $10 million in punitive damages were sought from
Cities Service Co. The punitive damage part of the suit was removed by the
Circuit Court and the compensatory damage permitted to stand. 
 The Attorney General of ' the State of Florida has renewed his request for
a hearing on his motion for a preliminary injunction against the issuance
of phosphate 
 I Physical scientist, Division of Nonmetallic Minerals. 

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