Update 21 December 2018
In October 2018, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd (BAN) issued Quin Environmentals (NZ) Ltd, the importer of ‘Quinfert’ Algerian reactive phosphate rock (RPR) with proceedings in the High Court seeking an injunction to prevent the company describing its product as an ‘RPR’.
Quinfert (the fertiliser division of Quin Environmentals) is of course fighting the injunction. No injunction has made granted. A half-day hearing in the Auckland High-Court has been set down for 26th February 2019. The case essentially revolves around what an RPR actually is – a specific phosphate mineral that has very well defined mineralogical and crystalline characteristics (the Quinfert position) , or an unexplained ‘thing’ that can only be assessed by a simple laboratory solubility test – the specifics of which are used nowhere else in the world – that makes no allowances for modern knowledge about RPRs, and the limitations of particular laboratory tests when certain accessory minerals are present.
Original Press Release
QE Managing Director Dr Bert Quin, a former MAF Chief Scientist for Soil Fertility and long-time promoter of the lower costs and environmental benefits for New Zealand farmers, says BAN’s action is a very cynical ploy to try to block competition in New Zealand.
Quin says that the product is accepted internationally as one of the very best RPRs in the world. “In my view, it is the best, which is why I have started importing it” says Quin. “The IFDC in Alabama, the foremost authority on the use of phosphate rocks directly as a fertiliser describe it as a Highly Reactive Phosphate Rock. The FAO (2004) also rank it in the highest reactivity group, along with Sechura (Peru) and Gafsa (Tunisia”.
Quin says that BAN are trying to use an outmoded NZ definition of RPR – the quick-fire 30-minute extraction with 2% citric acid still used by Fertmark, but nowhere else in the world – to block the product being advertised as an RPR” Quin says. “Certainly, as I have said many times, some samples, particularly if they contain more than 5% free dolomite, do not reach the NZ test’s 30% citric solubility minimum. However, this is an artefact of the test itself, and has no effect on the RPR’s effectiveness in the field.” Quin says that this fact is accepted internationally, except apparently in Ballance’s corporate office in Mt Maunganui.
“Fertmark themselves accept that the test is obsolete, and have been waiting for a decade for the industry duopoly to come up with an alternative” says Quin. “Fertmark has no legal standing, but Federated Farmers support it as a form of quality assurance. Unfortunately, the current citric test is like trying to assess the 0-100 km acceleration of a car from looking at its its shape alone; it is just totally inadequate”.
Quin says that Balance’s cynicism is clearly illustrated by the fact that the product Ballance sell under the name “Hi-P” RPR is not even registered with Fertmark , and in fact is not even a true RPR but a blend of Sechura RPR with a phosphate called PB3, known in the industry to be the dried waste slimes from the mining and beneficiation of Boucraa manufacturing rock. “It is extremely misleading to call the mix an RPR”, he says.
To keep the peace, Quin says he will even remove sufficient of the dolomite from the RPR to produce a version of the RPR called ‘V2’, which does meet the test, until a new test is introduced. He says there are several far superior alternatives in use overseas. “However, it is obvious that BAN just want me and RPR gone forever, so they can continue to sell maximum quantities of polluting superphosphate made from Boucraa ‘blood-phosphate’ from the occupied Western Sahara, and to hell with anyone else. Is this what their farmer shareholders want and deserve? I don’t think so.”