10 Top Countries for Potash Production

- June 26th, 2019

Potash production is steadily on the rise. It is estimated that world wide consumption for the crop fertilizer will reach 46.2 million tonnes in 2022.

Despite oversupply concerns, greater demand, coupled with increased potash production, helped prices rise in 2018.

That’s welcome news for the sector — many potash production operations have closed in recent years, and some are waiting on the sidelines for better days. These include BHP’s (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) Jansen asset in Canada, which is on hold until it is able to pass “strict investment hurdles.”

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), other potash production operations set to come online between 2019 and 2022 include new mines in Belarus, China, Russia and Spain. These new projects could produce an additional 15 million metric tons (MT) of output by 2021.

Additional mining projects in Argentina, Australia, Canada, UK and parts of Africa have been delayed until 2023 due to low potash prices and financing issues.

The USGS estimates that consumption of potash and related fertilizer products will increase from 42.2 million MT in 2018 to 46.2 million MT by 2021, and suggests that Asia and South America will be the largest potash consumers.

With that in mind, it’s worth looking at the top countries for potash production in 2017. Here’s an overview of the 10 countries that produced the most of the fertilizer, as per US Geological Survey data.

1. Canada

Mine production: 12 million MT

Canada is the world’s leading producer, with potash production growing by 2 million MT annually since 2016. The country’s potash production fell slightly in 2018, from 12.2 million MT in 2017 to 12 million MT.

Nutrien (TSX:NTR,NYSE:NTR), the largest potash company, is based in the Canadian prairie province of Saskatchewan. The company, which was established in early 2018, is the result of a merger between two crop nutrient companies, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan and Agrium. The partnership has “created a global agricultural giant” valued at US$36 billion.

2. Russia

Mine production: 7.5 million MT

Potash production in Russia was up slightly year-over-year. In 2018, output hit 7.5 million MT compared to 7.3 million MT in 2016. Uralkali (MCX:URKA) is Russia’s premiere potash company, as well as one of the world’s leading potash producer accounting for roughly 20 percent of global supply. The company has five mines and seven ore treatment and processing mills.

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3. Belarus

Mine production: 7.1 million MT

Potash production in Belarus remained the same year-over-year. Output in the eastern European country has increased since 2016, when potash production totals came in at 6.4 million MT.

Belarusian Potash Company is the country’s largest industry operator. Since Uralkali pulled out of Belarusian in 2013, its former partner, state-owned Belaruskali, has had a rocky road to recovery. Belaruskali has six mines and four processing factories.

4. China

Mine production: 5.5 million MT

Potash production in China has remained relatively the same from 2016 to 2018, at 5.5 million MT. Potash is extremely vital in China — the country is the largest consumer of the fertilizer, accounting for approximately 20 percent of world consumption. Chinese demand bounced up in 2017, and the country’s agreement with potash giant Uralkali established a much higher benchmark price for the year.

5. Germany

Mine production: 2.9 million MT

In Germany, potash production stayed nearly the same from 2016 to 2018, going from 2.7 million MT to 2.9 million MT.

K+S (ETR:SDF) is one of Germany’s leading potash miners and has a number of projects, operating six mines in three districts of Germany. The company has experienced growth through the first quarter of 2019, with revenues up 8 percent compared to Q1 2018. 

6. Israel

Mine production: 2 million MT

Potash production in Israel also remained unchanged throughout 2017 and 2018, producing 2 million MT both years. The country is sixth in terms of potash production, and it also hosts the world’s sixth-largest potash-producing company: Israel Chemicals (TLV:ICL). The company produces roughly a third of the world’s bromine, which is often produced from the same salt water and brine deposits that produce potash.

7. Jordan

Mine production: 1.4 million MT

While potash production in Jordan increased marginally from 2017 to 2018, the country fell short of Israel and got bumped down to seventh place. Arab Potash Company, located in Jordan, is the eighth-largest producer of potash by volume, and is the sole producer of potash in the Arab region. It has helped make Jordan a key potash supplier for India and Asia.

8. Chile

Mine production: 1.2 million MT

Chile recorded production of 1.2 million MT of potash in 2017, the same as the year before. One of the largest producers of potash in the country is SQM (NYSE:SQM), which is also a leading producer of lithium. South America in general is a large consumer of potash.

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9. Spain

Mine production: 560,000 MT

Spain remained in ninth place for potash production in 2018 with yearly production dropping year-over-year. in 2017, the country produced 610,000 MT of potash, down from the previous year’s total of 670,000 MT. Spain has reserves of 44 million MT of potash. Geoalcali has a few potash projects in Spain, including Izaga, Muga and Sierra Del Perdon.

10. United States

Mine production: 500,000 MT

The US bumped the UK from the 10th spot on the list in 2017 and continued to hold onto the spot in 2018. Production came mostly from Southeastern New Mexico and Utah.

The country put out 500,000 MT of potash for the year, a relatively steep drop from 2014, when it put out 850,000 MT of the mineral. The center of US potash production is New Mexico, where four mines are operated by two companies; Utah also has three potash operations. US potash goes largely to the fertilizer industry, which in turn uses the fertilizer to increase crop production and yields, as well as improve soil health and add in crop water retention. Any leftover potash output is used in the chemical and industrial sectors.

Now that you know more about potash production, click here for more articles on this space.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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