Agriminerals News in Brief 27 February – 4 March

By Myles McCormick
Published: Friday, 04 March 2016

PotashCorp expects demand to rise; Potash West brings FTI Consulting on board to help in search for Dinner Hill partner.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (PotashCorp) expects potash demand to pick up soon, following the implementation of number of supply cuts, Reuters newswire reported.

The company, the third largest producer of the fertiliser mineral globally, expects worldwide potash shipments to grow from 59m-62m tonnes this year to 70m tpa by 2020.

"We're now at the point where we expect that there be a response from the market," said PotashCorp CEO, Jochen Tilk, adding that it is too early to say whether more cuts will be necessary.

Tilk described Indian demand as "a perpetual disappointment" and said that lower US farm incomes have limited farmers' spending power.

Separately, the president of Unifor Local 922, the union representing PotashCorp workers, has expressed concern about the long term future of potash jobs in Sasketchewan, according to local paper, The Star Phoenix.

"We don’t have a crystal ball any more than anybody else, but it doesn’t look promising going into the next year either," said Rick Suchy, head of Unifor, which represents about 340 employees at the PotashCorp’s Lanigan mine.

"They [don’t] expect improvement in 2017, either (…) We’re concerned, but we’re content that we’re still working," Suchy added.

His statement followed an announcement by PotashCorp last week that it would curtail production at its Allan and Lanigan facilities in Saskatchewan, as it seeks to reduce its potash output by 400,000 tonnes this year.

ASX-listed Potash West NL will work with NYSE-listed FTI Consulting to promote the Dinner Hill project in Western Australia’s (WA) Dandaragan Trough to investors, as part of a bid to bring on board a partner.

"The investor reach of FTI Consulting will market this project in areas that see strong long-term growth in agriculture and the demand for agricultural inputs," said Potash West CEO, Patrick McManus.

Russian fertiliser producer Uralchem JSC said it invested Russian rouble (R) 97m ($1.32m*) in energy production and resource efficiency in 2015.

The company said that measures implemented have affected all of its plants and were aimed at upgrading energy-intensive production units, decreasing the anthropogenic impact on the environment and increasing the operational efficiency.

Separately, the company said it had increased its funding for social and charitable programmes to R 531m ($7.22m) in 2015. The figure donated marks a 126% year-on-year (y-o-y) increase from 2014.

The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations has reiterated calls not to lift a ban on phosphate mining off the country’s coast until such a time as it has been proven that there will be no environmental impact, according to local news reports.

"Phosphate mining at sea is an unknown. To start phosphate mining in Namibia without having done thorough robust research is taking a huge risk," Matti Amukwa, confederation chairman, said.

The country’s fisheries minister, Bernhard Esau, has said the ban will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

"I will only be comfortable on the way forward when more peer-reviewed and verifiable knowledge is gained through appropriate studies, and not just conclusions derived from a single study by a sole source," Esau said.

Finally, in financing news, New Zealand-based Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd has entered into a conditional subscription agreement for New Zealand dollar (NZ$) 600,000 ($401,772) of new shares from a private investor at a price of NZ$0.006/share ($0.004/share).

The company said that it would receive the investment in installments over a 12-month period. NZ$350,000 ($234,367) of the subscription is unconditional, while the remaining NZ$250,000 ($167,405) is conditional on the completion of a pre-break announcement process.

*Conversions made March 2016