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What Is Phosphate?

Phosphate is a salt of phosphoric acid which is found in phosphate rocks. Phosphate rocks have developed over many years in oceans in the form of phosphorite which is a calcium phosphate. Phosphorus dissolves from the rock deposits and is absorbed by plants and the soil. Some igneous rocks also contain phosphate minerals but sedimentary phosphate deposits are more abundant.

Phosphate is a highly sought after resource because of its importance in biological systems. It is important for the development of teeth and bones. Phosphate makes up part of the DNA and RNA molecules of which all life is formed.

What Is Phosphate Used For?

Pure phosphorus is used to make chemicals for industrial usage. The major application of phosphorus is to produce phosphate fertilizers for agriculture. It is also used in animal feed as a nutritional supplement and is used in fungicides, food preservatives, water treatment, metallurgy, anti-corrosion agents, ceramics and cosmetics.

Where Is Phosphate Mined?

Large natural deposits of phosphate rocks are found in South Africa, Canada and Russia. The biggest producers of phosphate rock are China, Morocco, United States and Russia. Australia’s reserves are less than 1% of the world’s resources and mines about 2.808 Mt per year.


Phosphate rock minerals are the only noteworthy resources of phosphorus. Phosphorus is essential for animal and plant nutrition and is used in fertilizers for food crops. Other uses include water treatments, cosmetics, ceramics and food preservatives. China is the largest producer of phosphorus.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.
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