Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound which is solid at room temperature and atstandard pressure.It is used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer and also used as an oxidizing agent in explosives.It is found as a natural mineral in the driest regions of the Atacama Desert in Chile.Ammonium nitrate was mined in the past however, presently the chemical is synthetically manufactured through various chemical processes.Ammonium nitrate is a main component of ANFO(ammonium nitrate fuel oil),an explosive which accounts for more than 70% of the total explosives in North America.
Ammonium nitrate has been popular in the past but hit a low in 2002 on account of the security apprehensions following the September 2001 attacks of World Trade Center and the Grand Paroisse warehouse in France.Since then stringent regulations have made the manufacturing of ammonium nitrate complex.Many countries have introduced and are implementing ammonium nitrate certification on transportation and storage of this compound.Consumption of ammonium nitrate in Western Europe has declined on account changing agricultural subsidy policies.A major chunk of the market is expected to be taken by urea as it has no major safety issues.In addition, the production of urea is economical. However, the main advantage of ammonium nitrate over urea is that it is more stable and it does not lose nitrogen to atmosphere.
Europe dominated the market in 2012 in the production of ammonium nitrate.Europe accounted for more than 40%of the total production.Countries such as Russia,the U.S.,China,Ukraine and Poland together accounted for more than 50% of the global ammonium nitrate production.
The increasing demand for industrial explosives and blasting agents is expected to drive the ammonium nitrate within the forecast period. Consumption of ammonium nitrate is expected to increase as existing facilities are being expanded, improved and rebuilt. There have been plenty of investments in upgrading older facilities to meet the demand of the consumers. ANFO which is made up of ammonium nitrate is widely used is an industrial explosive and in coal mining, civil construction and metal mining. Growth in all these mentioned industries is expected to drive the demand for ammonium market further. However,urea is less dangerous to handle and is less expensive to produce. Thus, urea is increasingly being used as a substitute to ammonium nitrate in agriculture giving ammonium nitrate market a tough competition. This is expected to act as a strong restraint for the ammonium nitrate market in the near future. Furthermore, the potential of ammonium nitrate as an explosive has led to many regulatory measures which may hamper its demand within the forecast period.Licenses for the use of ammonium nitrate are granted to only those industry applicants who have appropriate security measures to prevent any kind of misuse. Moreover, fertilizer plant explosions such as the one in Texas in 2013 coupled with bomb blast on the World Trade Center are strong examples that have compelled the government to tighten the regulations on the use of ammonium nitrate. Thus, stringent regulations on the production and use of ammonium nitrate are expected to curb the ammonium nitrate market over the next few years. Consumer switching to CAN or urea ammonium nitrate may open avenues for the ammonium nitrate market in the near future.
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Major players in the ammonium nitrate market are Acron Group, Borealis, EuroChem,Incitec Pivot,SIBUR Minudobreniya, Uralchem OJSC and Yara among others.