Indonesia's Indorama signs $4.5 bln of Algerian phosphate deals

ALGIERS, July 18 (Reuters) - Algeria signed deals with Indonesia’s Indorama Corporation on Monday to develop a phosphate mine and build two plants to process the crop nutrient in the North African country at a total expected cost of $4.5 billion.

The contracts are part of steps to develop Algeria’s long-neglected mining sector and diversify the OPEC member country’s economy away from oil and gas, after a sharp fall in energy earnings.

Indorama signed the deals with state-owned phosphate companies Asmidal and Manal. They include a joint venture between Indorama and Manal to develop a new phosphate mine in the eastern province of Tebessa.

Indorama, Asmidal and Manal will build a phosphate processing plant in Souk Ahras, near the Tunisian border, to produce phosphoric acid and di-ammonium phosphate (DAP).

The second plant will be set up near the coastal town of Skikda by Indorama and Asmidal to process natural gas and produce ammonia, technical ammonium nitrate (TAN) and calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN).

Indorama Corporation will hold a 49 percent stake in those projects, with the Algerian partners owning the rest, Industry and Mines Minister Abdesselam Bouchouareb said at the signing ceremony.

He did not give details on production but said completion of the projects was due in 2019, when Algerian phosphate output is expected to reach 10 million tonnes a year from 1 million tonnes now.

“This is the right way to diversify our economy. We need to find sources of financing,” he said.

Oil and gas currently account for 95 percent of Algeria’s export revenues and 60 percent of the state budget.

Parliament on Sunday approved a new investment law to improve the business climate outside the oil sector. (Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Mark Potter)