Turkmenistan has opened an international bid process for its second potash plant, aiming to expand more into the potash market. The first potash plant in the country was opened last month as the first potash plant in Central Asia. Turkmenistan is trying to diversify its economy away from natural gas and decrease dependence on its exports. The new plant, based at the Karabil potash deposit, is estimated to be worth about $1.4 billion.
The already operating Garlyk-based facility has an output capacity of 1.4 million tons of potash and it was developed in partnership with Belarus. The facility is set to target mostly China and India but it will also focus on European buyers. In Europe, it will compete with Uralkali, the world’s biggest potash producer as well as Belaruskali, Belarus’ state-owned fertilizer group.
The Garlyk deposit of potassium salts is located in the southeast of Turkmenistan and it was discovered in 1964-1966. At that time, the Soviets did not have necessary technology to develop the site into a production facility. In 2010, Belarusian contractor signed a contract for the construction of the mining and processing facility. The project was eventually developed and finalized by 14 Belarusian and 22 Turkmen organizations.
A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) also suggested that Afghanistan might contain large resources of undiscovered potash together with other Central Asian countries. According to the USGS, Central Asia Salt Basin of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan has the potential to contain between as many as 39 and 54 billion metric tons of undiscovered potash resources. Known potash resources in the Central Asia Salt Basin consist of 1.63 billion metric tons, according to a news release by USGS.