Dead Sea potash producer upgrades control system

Arab Potash Company in Jordan is installing ABB's System 800xA to help improve process efficiency, energy use, and boost production capacity.


Arab Potash Company (APC) is expanding its extensive potash production and port facilities at the Dead and Red Seas in Jordan to become one of the most productive and efficient in the world. As part of that program, it is installing  ABB’s automation platform, System 800xA.

APC is one of the world’s major suppliers of potash, a vital plant and crop nutrient used in agricultural fertilizer all over the world. The company’s vast salt ponds extend over 112 sq km at the southern end of the Dead Sea, and its potash refinery at Safi on the banks of this hypersaline mineral-rich lake is capable of producing 2,500,000 tons annually.

Processing potash from saltwater is a long and complex process that takes around 12 months to complete. The highly saline water in the salt ponds is slowly evaporated by the heat of the sun to produce a mineral-rich slurry called carnallite, which is then processed into potash at the Safi refinery.

APC recently completed a large modernization and expansion project at Safi to enhance the efficiency of the refining process and boost capacity by 25% from 2 to 2.5 million tons a year. The existing hot leach and cold crystallization plants were upgraded and a second cold crystallization plant was built.

The three plants are the heart of the refinery. There, the carnallite is dewatered, crystallized, leached, dried, and screened into three grades of potash. Each stage of the refining process at the new plant is controlled and optimized by a System 800xA DCS that monitors and manages process information from 3,500 I/O channels.

The project at Safi follows the recent modernization and expansion of APC’s warehousing facilities at Aqaba by the Red Sea, where the potash is stored, ready for loading onto bulk carriers for shipment to markets all over the world.

ABB provided an electrical, control, and instrumentation package to help boost capacity at Aqaba and make the storage and loading process faster and more efficient. The long conveyor system, three stackers and two reclaimers are now controlled by a System 800xA distributed control system that helps deliver a loaded product of consistent quality.

ABB says that as a result of the two System 800xA automation systems at Safi and Aqaba, the ongoing modernization of existing facilities APC will build a leading-edge process automation system that integrates all automation functions at the sites into a single engineering and operations environment that enables all facilities to operate more efficiently and with considerable cost savings.

Edited by Peter Welander,

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