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600 million tons of Iraq's sulfur reserves

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600 million tons of Iraq's sulfur reserves

Sulfur in Mosul
Economy News - Baghdad

When talking about Iraq's natural wealth and resources, oil is the most important natural resource in Iraq.

However, this fact is incomplete, as the country contains the largest global reserves of sedimentary sulfur in the Mishraq fields south of the city of Mosul (north of the country), whose reserves the Iraqi Ministry of Industry estimates are about two-thirds of the sulfur found on the globe.

The General Director of the Mishraq Sulfur Company, Abdel Moneim Al-Jubouri, says that the Mishraq fields are the largest sedimentary sulfur fields, with the global reserve estimated at 600 million tons, and the largest in the world, with reserves estimated at about 360 million tons.

The General Company for Mishraq Sulfur, affiliated to the Iraqi Ministry of Industry, was established in 1969, and the production of sulfur began through a direct investment contract with a Polish company on December 28, 1971, the day that was later considered the holiday of Iraqi mines, and the Polish company continued to operate until 1990 According to al-Jabouri.

Al-Jubouri explains that the old method for extracting sulfur in Iraq called "Fresh" or "Super Heat Steam" centered on melting layers of sulfur at a depth of 150 meters in the ground, then pulling it outside, then the refining factories work to separate Sulfur.

Regarding the area of the fields and their numbers, Al-Jubouri reveals that Mishraq sulfur consists of 3 fields, where the reserves of the first field are estimated at 65 million tons, while the reserves of the second field are 66 million tons, and the third (largest) reserves are 224 million tons, pointing out that the last two fields have not Invest yet.

The chemical engineer, Omar Salah al-Din, says that the Mishraq sulfur fields are the largest in the world in terms of their reserves of raw sedimentary sulfur, and that its uses vary between pharmaceutical industries, gunpowder, fertilizers, pesticides and fumigation of agricultural grains.

Salah al-Din adds that work has been suspended since the US invasion of the country in 2003, which led to great environmental pollution. Because of the untreated sulfur residues, as well as the primitive method that was used in the extraction, adding that

if Iraq invested in modern methods of extracting it, it would bring a great financial return to the country; Because the product is free from sulfur residues.

Al-Jubouri confirms that, adding that mining sedimentary sulfur is deposits that have accumulated over millions of years, and differs from the sulfur produced associated with oil and gas extraction processes, as the first contains many organic materials, and thus it enters into the industries of phosphate fertilizers, sulfuric acid, gunpowder and medicines, as it is an active pesticide. For insects and agricultural pests.

The General Company for Mishraq Sulfur includes several production lines, including factories for the production of alum (aqueous aluminum sulfate) used in water purification, which is what Al-Jubouri indicates that this factory was rehabilitated after Iraqi forces regained control of Nineveh Governorate in mid-2017, where the factory produces 80 thousand tons of alum per year, and its specifications exceed what the state imports.

The company also has another factory that produces agricultural sulfur with high-quality specifications, which is used in the eradication of agricultural pests, and is in the form of powder, through which farmers work to protect their crops.

As for the deputy in the Iraqi parliament from Nineveh Governorate, Ahmed Al-Jubouri, in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, he believes that Iraq is among the wealth that it embraces. Mishraq sulfur comes as one of the natural resources that have been neglected, which is an important resource for Iraq, but it has stopped since 2003.

The parliamentarian adds that the main reason for Iraq not benefiting from Mishraq sulfur is poor security conditions during the previous period, as well as the absence of manufacturing industries, which requires the Ministry of Industry to develop effective plans to restore work in these fields and export the product to the world, especially since Iraq's wealth of sedimentary sulfur is considered The world's largest.

The economic expert, Hammam Al-Shamaa, sees for his part that previous governments deliberately not invested in the Mishraq sulfur fields, and stressed that the Iraqi state, and since 2003, lacks an economic strategy to invest in the enormous natural resources such as oil and gas investment.

For his part, the spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Industry, Mortada Al-Safi, indicates that the current government, since its formation, has embarked on developing integrated plans to reactivate the factories of the company, especially in areas that were under the control of ISIS, including the Mishraq Match Company, pointing out that the re The operation of the factories depends on the extent of damage to these factories.

Al-Safi does not exclude the referral of totally damaged projects to investment, as in the phosphate factories in Anbar (west of the country) and the Nineveh Pharmaceutical Company (north of the country), indicating that the Mishraq Sulfur Fields Company was able to restart some of its plants, and that there is a plan in place now to restart the sulfur factories again.

The director of Mishraq sulfur, Abdel Moneim Al-Jubouri, indicates that extraction has stopped since 2003. However, in 2011 the Ministry of Industry contracted with the US company "Devco" to import a modern and integrated plant worth $80 million.

However, ISIS's control of Nineveh governorate in the summer of 2014 prevented the installation of modern factories that arrived in Iraq in 2015, and which are still stored in Basra ports. Because of the company's need to rehabilitate the infrastructures and warehouses, which is close to being finished.

Regarding the possibility of resuming production, he revealed that the company will have the ability to produce about one million tons of pure sulfur within two years, using the modern method that does not produce sulfur pollutants, pointing out that the strategic stock of crude sulfur extracted since 1990 is estimated at 90 thousand tons.

In addition to the presence of about 2 million tons of waste called "foam", which includes 80% sulfur waste, and can be used as a material Insulating moisture, but it is not utilized yet, and the Research and Development Authority at the Ministry of Industry has begun to activate mechanisms for using this material.

As for the marketing of sulfur products, Al-Jubouri asserts that the Iraqi national industry will not rise unless the state works to protect the local product, pointing out that his company produces about 80 thousand tons of "water purifiers" (alum) annually, sufficient for the country's need, and with international standards, However, state departments and ministries deliberately import this substance from international markets.

It is noteworthy that the Mishraq sulfur fields were subjected to 3 fires, the most severe of which was in 2003 after the US invasion of the country, then in 2016 when ISIS fighters burned waste sulfur in an attempt to obstruct the progress of the security forces, and in the summer of 2019 the flames of wheat and barley fields spread to reach Sulfur fields, which cause major environmental pollution, according to al-Jabouri.

They are complex problems faced by the country's natural resources, including sulfur.

Between corruption, poor security, the absence of planning and slow procedures, the wealth of Iraq remains lying in the ground for a while.

Quoted from Al Jazeera Net
Number of observations 124, date of addendum 12/23/2020

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