IMC Fertilizer Inc. resumed production operations at the Four Corners phosphate rock mine in central Florida recently, following a three-year shutdown brought about by unfavorable market conditions.
The scheduled reopening of the mine, which has an annual capacity of 5 million tons of phosphate rock, a major crop nutrient, reflects the continuing improvement in the fertilizer market outlook, a company spokesman said.Based on current positive indicators within U.S. agriculture, IMC Fertilizer market researchers now forecast domestic crop nutrient consumption will continue to grow to 21.6 million tons in 1989. That would represent an estimated 10.5 percent gain over last year.
Combining both domestic and offshore growth currently forecast for 1989, the company expects a total demand for North American-produced fertilizers will reach 35 million nutrient tons this year, a 5 percent increase over 1988.
The mine is initially operating five days a week, with three shifts of workers. About 260 persons are employed at the Four Corners facility, located south of Mulberry at the juncture of Hillsborough, Manatee, Polk and Hardee counties in west central Florida.
IMC Fertilizer, a partner with W.R. Grace & Co. in the Four Corners mine, is in the process of purchasing Grace's interest in the joint venture, having assumed management of the facility last September.
IMC Fertilizer is a subsidiary of IMC Fertilizer Group Inc., a producer and marketer of two basic crop nutrients, phosphate rock and potash. The company also manufactures two other fertilizer products, phosphate chemicals and nitrogen; produces and markets premium fertilizers under the Rainbow brand name; and recovers uranium oxide from phosphoric acid for upgrading by electric utilities as fuel for nuclear power plants.