India will set up joint venture projects in Syria for production of phosphates under a long-term cooperation agreement signed between the two countries.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by fertiliser secretary Sutanu Behuria and the Syrian minister of petroleum and natural resources envisages a broad framework of long term cooperation between the two countries through their respective fertiliser and mining entities for setting up of phosphatic plants and projects in Syria.
Syria has proven reserves of rock phosphate, estimated at 1,700 million tonnes.
Syrian mining and fertiliser company, General Company for Phosphates and Mines (Gecopharm), currently exploits only about 4 million tonnes of rock phosphate annually. Gecopharm is planning to scale up production to 10 million tonnes.
Earlier, in May 2009, Gecopharm and India's Department of Fertilisers had entered into an MoU, under which Indian entities such as MECON, RITES and PDIL have carried out consultancy studies for assessing feasibility of upgradation in infrastructure (port/rail/road) and mining sectors in Syria.
Gecopharm and the Indian consortium are currently finalising a draft feasibility report. Government of India is funding a $1.5 million consultancy study, which is expected to provide the basis for Gecopharm to scale up its production of rock phosphate and strengthen related infrastructure for its export and downstream processing.
Both Syria and India will gain immensely by exploiting the rock phosphate reserves. Syria will gain by way of employment and foreign exchange while it will enable Indian mining and fertiliser companies to set up phosphatic projects in Syria.