CF Fertilisers is to invest £40m in British fertiliser production following rising demand for its ammonium nitrate (AN) based products and two years of record outputs at its manufacturing sites in Cheshire and Teesside.
The investment will be made at the company’s North East-based Billingham complex building on the near 100-year heritage of fertiliser manufacturing at the site.
The development is a real statement of faith in UK fertiliser production and British agriculture as a whole, says CF Head of Sales and Marketing Sam Bell.
“We are convinced growers will increasingly need quality-assured, consistent products produced in a traceable and environmentally-audited manner in the future not only to deliver reliable field performance but also meet the more stringent demands of buyers and legislators,” she explains.
“All CF fertilisers already carry full carbon footprints authorised by the Carbon Trust. Since 2010, we have reduced the carbon footprint of straight AN production by 47% and the new investment will allow us to continue development of manufacturing processes and products alike.
“We are now the only company manufacturing high quality AN in the UK with our iconic blue bags a feature on farms up and down the country and names like Nitram, DoubleTop and MultiCut Sulphur very much part of growers’ day-to-day language.”
According to Billingham site manager Keith Brudenell, the bulk of the money will be spent on two key projects to improve the infrastructure and production capabilities of the Billingham site with development of other facilities and equipment also planned.
“The first priority is a £15.75M project to upgrade and rationalise the Billingham high voltage electricity distribution network including replacement of switchgear on the Ammonia plant and upgrading those on the fertiliser production units,” he says.
“The new high voltage network will be ‘state of the art’ with a lifespan in excess of 40 years giving us significant power security for future needs and making for more efficient production.”
The second major project is a £15.5m upgrade to the ammonia reforming plant designed to extend its life by 20 years.
“This will involve replacement of the steam reforming equipment and gas transmission piping on the high temperature part of the plant and our aim is to complete the upgrade by 2020.”
In addition, CF Fertilisers is investing £8M to replace a range of equipment in one of its acid plants to improve reliability and meet the growing demand, he adds.
“The investment at the facilities is the largest for 20 years and will create over 100 temporary jobs during its execution over the next two years.
“Importantly, it will allow us to continue the long history of ammonia and fertiliser manufacture at Billingham and make sure we are in the best shape possible to look after the needs of all our employees and customers as we approach our 100 year anniversary in 2023.”
The company now manufactures over 1.5m tonnes of products every year in the UK, equivalent to 40% of the country’s total fertiliser requirement.