Brazil and Chile are the leading potash producers in South America. Here’s a look at some of the projects in those countries as well as the companies operating them.
Potash is found in numerous South American countries, with Chile and Brazil producing the most of the fertilizer. Respectively, they put out 700,000 and 400,000 tonnes annually, while South America as a whole produces about 1.4 million tonnes yearly.
Here’s a look at a few of the companies that are exploring for, developing and producing potash in Brazil and Chile.
In addition to being one of South America’s main potash producers, Brazil is one of the world’s top consumers of the fertilizer, behind China and the United States, as per Brazil Potash. It consumed 8.1 million tonnes of potash in 2012, according to Verde Potash (TSX:NPK), even though global potash consumption declined that year. The country’s needs are so great largely due to the fact that its soils are naturally deficient in potassium, Passport Potash (TSXV:PPI) states on its website.
Vale (NYSE:VALE) and Verde Potash are two of the main potash companies in the country. Their projects include:
- Cerrado Verde: Located in Western Minas Gerais in Brazil’s Cerrado agricultural region, the Cerrado Verde project is wholly owned by Verde Potash and has been the company’s main focus since November 2012. The project spans more than 293,000 acres and has an indicated resource of 71 million tonnes with an average grade of 9.22-percent K2O. Its inferred resource is estimated at 2.76 billion tonnes with an average grade of 8.91-percent K2O (using a 7.5-percent K2O cut off). Verde plans to produce both ThermoPotash, a new product, and potassium chloride from the project.
- Taquari-Vassouras: Vale owns the Sergipe-based Taquari-Vassouras mine, which the company’s website states is Brazil’s only potash mine. During the first six months of 2013, Vale produced 233,000 tonnes of potash from the mine, about 5 percent lower than the same quarter last year.
- Carnalita: Vale is expected to start additional output from a $4-billion potash project known as Carnalita by 2017, the Sergipe government told Reuters in early October. The Brazilian state is looking to increase its potash production with Carnalita and several other new potash projects in order to lessen its dependence on imported fertilizer products.
As mentioned, Chile is South America’s second-biggest potash producer. Companies working there include:
- Inspiration Mining (TSX:ISM): In 2012, Inspiration acquired about 20 percent of Potash Dragon, which holds the rights to various potash properties in Northern Chile in the Atacama Desert’s Salar de Llamara. The Llamara potash project is close to the ocean and has high solar evaporation rates, making it an ideal spot for low-cost mining and the recovery of soluble minerals like potash.
- Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM): Known as SQM, this company also extracts potash from the Atacama Desert and is Chile’s largest fertilizer producer. PotashCorp (NYSE:POT,TSX:POT), which describes itself as “the world’s largest fertilizer company by capacity,” owns about 32 percent of SQM, according to its website. Bloomberg reported in early October that PotashCorp may be poised to take over SQM as SQM stocks have declined about 28 percent since July.