What were the top phosphate and potash news stories of 2017? It was a quiet year, but some headlines were able to draw readers in.
Both potash and phosphate have had a tough year. Potash has faced a number of challenges that have kept it far from heights seen in 2008, when it was priced at $900 per tonne.
Phosphate has had its own issues, including territory disputes in Morocco, where the world’s largest phosphate reserves are found.
Between the two commodities, what were the top headlines in 2017? We’ve compiled a list of our five most popular phosphate and potash news stories of last year. Read on to see what events in 2017 grabbed the attention of our investor audience.
First on the list is an article from the beginning of 2017 covering the factors keeping potash prices down. As mentioned, back in 2008 prices were at a whopping $900. At the time this article was written, prices were down at $215 — as is explained in the piece, the industry has been wrestling with oversupply, low-cost mines entering the space and diminishing farm income.
However, some CEOs were still optimistic early this year. Read the article to find out why Jochen Tilk of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (TSX:POT,NYSE:POT) thought a recovery was coming.
Making headlines in potash news in August was BHP Billiton’s (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) backpedaling on its proposed Jansen potash mine in Saskatchewan. Despite continued progress at the site, the company said it would not ask its board for project approval in 2018? Why? BHP explained at the time that it is waiting for a better “market window” in order to get the most value possible.
Other changes were also on the table at BHP, with the company discussing the possible sale of its US shale oil and gas business. Find out more details about the BHP situation by reading the article.
Our third top potash news story of 2017 covers the proposed merger between PotashCorp and Agrium (TSX:AGU,NYSE:AGU). In September, when the story was published, the deal was being evaluated by antitrust regulators, and those in China and India said they would only grant approval if PotashCorp divested in specific offshore minority ownerships.
How come? India’s Competition Commission was concerned about how the deal would affect competition in the sector. Since then, the merger has come closer to closing, but is still not a done deal.
Back in May, a phosphate rock shipment to Agrium from Morocco’s Office Cherifien de Phosphate (OCP) was detained in Panama. The shipment was headed to Vancouver, but under a maritime court order instigated by Western Sahara’s Polisario independence movement, it was held in Panama.
Western Sahara is disputed territory between Polisario and Morocco, but last year a European court ruled that Western Sahara should not be considered part of Morocco in EU and Moroccan deals. OCP mines phosphate in the Moroccan-held part of Western Sahara, and Polisario officials have claimed that its shipment to Agrium is illegal. Read the article to see how the situation played out
Our final top news story looks at Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMH), and its battles in court. As of June, four groups had come up against the phosphate company, including the Namibian Fishing Association; the Namibian Hake Association; the Midwater Trawling Association of Namibia; and Omualu Fishing.
Their grievance is that NHM failed to provide an environmental impact assessment for its Sandpiper marine phosphate project within six months of being issued a mining license back in 2011. Read on to find out more about the case and about other seabed phosphate projects around the world.
Based on these headlines, do you believe either potash or phosphate will see a big rebound in 2018? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Amanda Kay, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.