News that PotashCorp is cutting its workforce by about 18 per cent, affecting 1,045 people — mostly in Saskatchewan — has put the mining company in the spotlight.
Here are five things worth noting about the mineral potash and the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan:
- Potash is mined and used primarily as an ingredient in fertilizer. Saskatchewan is the largest producer in the world, accounting for approximately 30 per cent of total production. The province hosts almost half of the global potash reserves.
- The Saskatchewan Ministry of Resources says in 2012, Saskatchewan produced 8.8-million tonnes of potash worth $6 billion. About 45 per cent of Saskatchewan potash exports go to the United States.
- Saskatoon-based PotashCorp was created as a Crown corporation by Allan Blakeney's NDP government in 1975 and was privatized by the Progressive Conservative government of Grant Devine in 1989. It now has operations in seven countries.
- PotashCorp says it is the world's largest fertilizer company by capacity, producing the three primary crop nutrients: potash, phosphate and nitrogen.
- Australian-based BHP Billiton attempted to buy PotashCorp in 2010, but was blocked by the federal government under pressure from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. Wall argued that Canada's strategic interests would be at risk if the province saw most its potash industry sold to an international company.