CCM: Four problems identified with China’s phosphogypsum business 10-20-2016

On 3 Oct., 2016, Professor Sun Zhenping and his research team, from Tongji University, published a report concerning the status quo of domestic phosphogypsum application. Given the rapid development of the phosphate fertiliser business and the explosive growth in production of phosphogypsum in China, he highlighted a problem of great urgency: that is, how to improve the comprehensive utilisation rate of phosphogypsum.  

Source: Baidu

Domestic production of phosphogypsum now reaches about 50 million tonnes per year, and cumulative stockpiling so far has surpassed 200 million tonnes, according to the report. However, underdeveloped utilisation technology is restricting utilisation, which is now at about 10 million tonnes per year:

  • For building purpose gypsum plaster: about 2.80 million tonnes per year
  • For cement retarder: about 2.50 million tonnes per year
  • For gypsum block and gypsum brick: about 1.60 million tonnes per year
  • For filling materials: about 1.50 million tonnes per year
  • For soil amendment: about 1.50 million tonnes per year
  • For chemicals such as sulphuric acid and ammonium sulphate: about 100 thousand tonnes per year


Specifically, 4 key problems revealed during the comprehensive utilisation of phosphogypsum in China are listed in the report:

1. Huge costs due to high content of impurities:

Acidic substances in phosphogypsum, such as free phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid, result in low pH value and can easily cause corrosion of production equipment; phosphates and fluorochemicals also contained in phosphogypsum have a negative impact on post processed products, which means that phosphogypsum should be purified first before further utilisation; secondary pollution is generated during the utilisation of phosphogypsum for which equipment for environmental treatment should be installed, further adding to costs.

2. Imbalanced regional development and overall low utilisation level:

Production, stockpiling and utilisation of phosphogypsum vary regionally, impacted by resource distribution and transportation conditions. Mainly its production and stockpiling are centred in phosphate fertiliser producing areas (say Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Hubei and Anhui provinces), and consumption is concentrated in building purpose gypsum and cement producing areas such as the economically developed eastern region. Limited by transportation conditions, supplies of phosphogypsum in large consuming areas are short whilst areas with high production can only have phosphogypsum piled up.

3. Incomplete standards:

China lacks segmented standards for phosphogypsum used for different building materials, which is not beneficial to its application; besides, the comprehensive utilisation of phosphogypsum is based on standards for other gypsums due to a shortage of standards specifically for phosphogypsum – this receives low market recognition.

4. Utilisation restricted by natural gypsum which is under large production:

China’s output of natural gypsum was 45 million tonnes in 2010, mainly in Shandong, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. The large exploitation of natural gypsum, in addition to damaging natural environment, is also a factor in setting off the use of industrial byproduct phosphogypsum. Currently, domestic comprehensive utilisation rate of phosphogypsum is 20%, vs. 35% in the US and nearly 100% in Japan.


Professor Sun believes that the post treatment of phosphogypsum now has become a “bottleneck” impacting development of the domestic phosphorus chemical industry, “The key is to improve the comprehensive utilisation of phosphogypsum, and the most flexible way currently is to use it to produce cement retarder, gypsum block, gypsum brick and gypsum plasterboard.”

In the report, he also calls for the perfection of standards for comprehensive utilisation and application of phosphogypsum in industry, and the acceleration of the formulation and revision of standards on phosphogypsum and related products, “Government policies still play a crucial role in increasing the comprehensive utilisation of phosphogypsum. Policies involving taxation, energy, etc., should be issued to support enterprises, so as to enable them to make profit or break even during this utilisation. Probably value added tax could be exempted for building materials and chemicals based on phosphogypsum.”


This article comes from Phosphorus Industry China Monthly Report 1610, CCM


About CCM:

CCM is the leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets. Founded in 2001, CCM offers a range of data and content solutions, from price and trade data to industry newsletters and customized market research reports. Our clients include Monsanto, DuPont, Shell, Bayer, and Syngenta. CCM is a brand of Kcomber Inc.


For more information about CCM, please visit or get in touch with us directly by emailing or calling +86-20-37616606.


Tag: phosphorus  phosphogypsum


Subscribe to our Newsletter


Next Press