The Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC) has denied reports that the company was negotiating the sale of its Aqaba complex.
“The issue was not discussed, and no decision was taken in that direction,” said Khalid Sheyyab, JPMC general manager.
Earlier this week, the Arabic daily Al Arab Al Yawm reported that the JPMC was holding talks with a Norwegian and a French company to privatize the complex in order to make up for the losses incurred by the company.
According to mid-year results, the JPMC, once Jordan's major foreign currency earner, incurred heavy losses of JD59 million during the first half of 2000.
However, the company said that privatizing some of its operations might be considered in the future.
“We will look into the selling-off of part of JPMC activities, which include mining, transportation, processing, manufacturing, if this proves to be in the interest of the company,” Sheyyab told the Jordan Times in an interview.
A World Bank official last month suggested that Jordan's mining sector be privatised, including the phosphate company where the Jordanian government is a majority stake holder.
According to Sheyyab, the JPMC will launch a study to investigate the reasons behind the losses, analyse the costs, the markets, and draw up a restructuring, marketing and a production plan, which is profit-oriented.
He also clarified that the company's contract with the Indian Oswal Chemicals and Fertilisers Limited was not a major reason behind the losses.
“Only one shipment, of around 58,000 tones of phosphate, headed to the Indian market under the deal during June. “Thus, it could not have anything but a minimal impact on the company's sales during the January-June period of this year,” explained Sheyyab.
But he said that the JPMC is reconsidering the five-year contract, to end in 2005, whereby the JPMC was supposed to provide Oswal with an annual amount of 1.5-2 million tones of phosphate.
Although the first 0.5 million tones was set to be supplied by the end of this year, slightly over 276,000 tones were exported until the end of August, said the manager. He also preferred not to disclose the selling prices, because of the fierce competition the company faces.
Meanwhile, he added that certain circumstances, including the need for cash, might have forced or in the future force the company to sell its product at less than market value.
( Jordan Times )
By Rana Awwad
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)