Quebec co-ops’ urea plant back on hold

Development of a major new nitrogen fertilizer plant in Quebec has returned to the back burner where it lived for much of the past year.

The Canadian arm of the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Co-operative (IFFCO) and Quebec agrifood co-operative giant La Coop federee announced Monday they will again halt development work on their planned plant at Becancour, across the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivieres.

IFFCO, one of India’s largest fertilizer makers, and La Coop first announced plans for a urea plant in 2012, but put preliminary work on hold in December last year as its partners sought more investors against rising construction costs. The two firms then announced in June this year that work would resume.

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As of Monday, however, “we are halting the project,” IFFCO Canada director general Claude Lafleur said, due to “current poor rates for urea.”

Current market conditions in fertilizer and other resource sectors are “unfavourable for completing the financing required,” which in turn is “disrupting the scheduled start of construction,” the companies said.

Urea prices, now at their lowest in five years, are preventing project promoters and investors from “attaining the plant’s anticipated profitability,” said Lafleur, a former Coop federee chief who has spearheaded the IFFCO Canada project since May last year.

The partners expect they’ll be able to resume work once the “cyclical low point in the price of urea” passes, he said, and until then, “we continue to work on developing the project and preparing for its relaunch.”

IFFCO and La Coop reiterated Monday they believe the “world class” project is still “fundamentally viable,” noting support from the province, local officials and major institutional partners “remains solid.”

IFFCO Canada said Monday it will still keep its offices in Montreal and Becancour open. — AGCanada.com Network

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