Hatch Ltd. – The Mosaic Company’s New Wales fertilizer plant

There are some construction projects where familiarity among the partners is a critical element for success. Perhaps that is why Hatch Ltd. and The Mosaic Company are so thrilled to be working together on Mosaic’s New Wales fertilizer plant in Mulberry, Fla. 

“We were chosen because of our expertise and experience with Mosaic on this and similar processes,” Senior Project Manager Dan Pelham says. “They can have trust in our ability to upgrade their existing plant.” 

Teaming Up

Hatch Ltd. is an employee-owned, multidisciplinary professional services firm that provides technical and strategic services to the mining, metallurgical, energy and infrastructure sectors. Its services include project and construction management, consulting, information technology, engineering and process development. The company has project experience in more than 150 countries, more than 10,000 people in more than 65 offices and more than $35 billion in projects currently under management.

Hatch has become well known for its abilities to develop business strategies, manage and optimize production and execute projects that involve the scale-up of process technologies, as well as its ability to manage startups, commissioning and ramp-ups. Its goal is to be the leading supplier of technical and strategic services including consulting, information technology, engineering, process development and project and construction management to the mining, metallurgical, energy and infrastructure industries.

The Mosaic Company serves the global agriculture sector. The company mines phosphate rock from nearly 200,000 acres of Mosaic-owned land in central Florida, and it mines potash from four mines in North America, primarily in Saskatchewan. Mosaic’s products are processed into crop nutrients and then shipped via rail, barge and ocean-going vessel to customers in the major agricultural centers of the world.

Mosaic is a leader in the potash industry with annual capacity of 10.3 million tonnes. Its potash expansion projects are expected to increase the company’s annual capacity by almost five million tonnes. As for phosphate, Mosaic’s annual capacity is greater than the next two largest producers combined. It is the world’s largest producer of finished phosphate products, with approximately one-third of its phosphate product shipped within North America while the remainder is exported globally. The company employs 8,900 people, delivers nearly 19 million tonnes of product to approximately 40 countries each year and participates in every aspect of crop nutrition development.

“Hatch is a global mining and minerals company, and we entered the phosphate sector in 2010,” Pelham says. “Our Tampa office is our phosphate center for excellence. We work with all of the major phosphate companies in North America, and Mosaic is one of our key clients.”

Hatch and Mosaic have worked together on a number of projects, and the $225 million expansion at Mosaic’s New Wales fertilizer plant is one of the most recent. Mosaic’s goal is to enhance the facility so it can produce and handle the company’s MicroEssentials product. Mosaic is the only company producing MicroEssentials, which fuses nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and zinc into granules that are used to fertilize crops. The New Wales project has been seen as a necessity for Mosaic because demand for its MicroEssentials product has grown.

Construction began on the project in June 2014. The goal for final construction and commissioning is June 2016. Among the key elements of the project are the construction of two new storage warehouses measuring 150,000 and 16,000 square feet. In addition, the project will modify existing buildings to allow for the addition of new equipment. Once the upgrade is finished, the upgrade should expand Mosaic’s production capacity to 3.5 million metric tons by 2017.

“The plant was originally capable of just making diammonium phosphate, but when the project is finished it will be able to produce diammonium phosphate, monoammonium phosphate and MicroEssentials,” Pelham says. 

Challenging Aspects

Located on a site that is around 30 acres in size and located in two counties, aspects of the project include construction of a micronutrients raw materials warehouse as well as installation of the conveyance systems needed to transfer materials to the production facility. The current production plant is being converted through a meticulously planned process that will demolish parts of the plant while still allowing it to operate. 

“Currently, the facility is set up so there are two production plants in one large facility,” Pelham says. “Mosaic doesn’t want to lose productivity, so we are first shutting down, demolishing and converting the east plant. It will come back on line in December. We will then go through the same process with the west plant, which will come online next June.”

Before any of that could happen, the project had to get through a complex permitting process that involved two counties, as well as state and environmental permitting. After that, an entirely new electrical infrastructure needed to be installed at the site to handle new equipment and power requirements. “Due to common power and control equipment in the old plant design, when we shut down the east plant for its demolition and conversion process, we had to start-up the west plant on the new electrical infrastructure,” Pelham says.

Staging was also a challenge on the project because there were no facilities for contractor trailers or laydown of equipment and steel. In addition, the nature of the Floridian landscape and climate means earth movement, filling and drainage have all been factored into the project. 

Beyond that, coordination and scheduling have been a challenge, as there are 12 contracts being performed on the project with seven major contractors all involved. What’s more, engaging in demolition of one plant while the other is still running presents logistical and safety issues. So far, Hatch has been able to handle all of those issues in its role as construction manager. 

“We have to hit our deadlines because Mosaic has to be able to get its products to its customers,” Pelham says. “Mosaic wanted us on this project because of our expertise in this field and they felt we could handle a project of this size in a small window of time.”

Ultimately, Hatch is looking forward to completing this project on time and on budget. Doing so will allow Mosaic to continue to build on its position in the phosphate industry, and it will allow Hatch to elevate its expertise and reputation. 

“This project will help to build the Hatch name on a global scale, and it will help Mosaic by increasing their ability and capacity to efficiently make a premium product,” Pelham says. 

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