Processing Potash from Dead Sea

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 @ 07:01 PM gHale

Arab Potash Company (APC) expanded its potash production and port facilities at the Dead and Red Seas in Jordan to become one of the most productive and efficient in the world.

APC upgraded its systems based on ABB’s automation platform, Extended Automation System 800xA, as a part of a comprehensive modernization and expansion project at its processing and warehousing facilities in Jordan.

APC is one of the world’s major suppliers of potash, a plant and crop nutrient used in agricultural fertilizer all over the world. The company’s vast salt ponds extend over 112 sq.km at the southern end of the Dead Sea, and its potash refinery at Safi on the banks of this hypersaline mineral-rich lake is capable of producing 2.5 million tons.

Satellite image of the southern basin of the Dead Sea, with the APC salt ponds on the right and the Israeli salt ponds on the left, separated by a central canal that is also the international border between the two countries.

Satellite image of the southern basin of the Dead Sea, with the APC salt ponds on the right and the Israeli salt ponds on the left, separated by a central canal that is also the international border between the two countries.


Processing potash from saltwater is a long and complex process that takes around 12 months to complete. The highly saline water in the APC salt ponds slowly evaporates via heat of the sun to produce a mineral-rich slurry called carnallite, which then processes into potash at the Safi refinery.

APC just completed a large modernization and expansion project at Safi to enhance the efficiency of the refining process and boost capacity by 25 percent from 2 million tons to 2.5 million tons a year. The plan called for an upgrade of the existing hot leach and cold crystallization plants. In addition, they built a second cold crystallization plant.

The three plants are the heart of the refinery. There, the company dewaters the carnallite, then crystallizes, leaches, dries, and screens it into three grades of potash. Each stage of the refining process at the new plant undergoes control and optimization via a System 800xA distributed control system that monitors and manages process information from 3,500 input/output channels.

The project at Safi follows the modernization and expansion of APC’s warehousing facilities at Aqaba by the Red Sea, where they store they potash and get it ready for loading onto bulk carriers for shipment to markets all over the world.

ABB provided an electrical, control and instrumentation package to help boost capacity at Aqaba and make the storage and loading process faster and more efficient. The long conveyor system, three stackers and two reclaimers now undergo control via a System 800xA distributed control system that helps deliver a loaded product of consistent quality.

As a result of the two System 800xA automation systems at Safi and Aqaba and the ongoing modernization of existing facilities APC will have a process automation system that integrates all automation functions at the sites into a single engineering and operations environment that enables all facilities to operate more efficiently and with considerable cost savings.



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