The Negev Phosphates Chemicals Company at Mishor Rotem, located immediately adjacent to the Dimona reactor, is Israel's only acknowledged nuclear fuel cycle facility.
The Negev is the largest, but the least populated, region of Israel. Resources found in the Negev include copper, iron, manganese, phosphates and uranium. Negev Phosphates Chemicals Company production facilities and phosphate rock mines are located in desert regions. Phosphate mining takes place in the Negev near Beersheba. Phosphate rock produced from the company's three mines (Zin, Oron and Arad) could potentially be incorporated in all products produced . The decision to incorporate phosphate rock from a particular mine for production of specific downstream products is driven by economic considerations.
Negev Phosphates was established in 1952 to mine phosphate rock in the Negev. Rotem Amfert Negev was formed through a merger of Negev Phosphates, Ltd. and the Rotem-Amfert Group in 1991. Israeli Chemicals Ltd. (ICL), the parent company which holds one hundred percent of Rotem's shares, was partially privatized in 1992 and 1993. The percentages of ICL's shares privatized were twenty percent and five percent respectively. The Government of Israel sold less than 0.5 percent of its shares in ICL. Additional shares of ICL were sold in 1995.
Rotem Amfert Negev is an integrated, multinational phosphate group manufacturing and marketing a comprehensive range of products based on phosphate rock as raw material and leading to downstream derivatives including phosphoric acids, fertilizers, specialty chemicals and phosphate salts. The Rotem's production capacity includes 1.8 million tpa of fertilizers, 540,000 tpa of P2O5 fertilizer grade phosphoric acid, more than 100,000 tpa (as P2O5) of food grade phosphoric acid, 4 million tpa of phosphate rock, and about 50,000 tpa MKP (monopotassium phosphate).
Israel can extract uranium from Negev phosphate deposits, and it is estimated that thirty to sixty thousand tons of uranium are contained in low-level phosphate ores. However, it is reported that domestic production of uranium as a by-product of phosphate mining amounts to only 10 tons a year. The amount of natural uranium per cycle is about 170 Mt in a standard 3,000 MWt power PWR. The power level of the Dimona reactor is variously estimated at between 30 MWt and 200 MWt, suggesting a requirement for Israel is said to have addressed this shortfall by reprocessing the low burnup spent fuel from Dimona to recover uranium (most other countries do not do this).
In May 1999, MidAtlantic Energy Group of Pittsburgh canceled its agreement with IEC (Israel's monopoly national utility) on a plan to build a 150-MW shale oil-fired power plant at Mishor Rotem, apparently due to its high cost.
An unrelated compnay, Haifa Chemicals, established a plant at the Mishor Rotem industrial zone in the Negev Desert in 1994, in addition to its main facility in Haifa. In addition to potassium nitrate, Haifa Chemicals manufactures and distributes a broad variety of products based on potassium nitrate and phosphoric acid. The company is wholly owned by the multinational US-based Trans-Resources Inc.
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