But despite the short-term trends, Scotiabank Vice President of Economics and commodity market specialist Patricia Mohr remains positive that growing food demand will drive potash prices above US $500/tonne later this year. Concerns of drought in South American soybean and European wheat markets, and the rebound in canola, palm oil, and corn prices - all crops that require significant potash application per hectare planted - have also buoyed Mohr's confidence in rising potash application in North America, Southeast Asia, and Brazil in 2012.
Investing in potash infrastructure
With short-term uncertainty in current potash markets, there is still a strong belief in the long-term outlook. The British Columbia provincial government announced earlier this week that Vancouver's infrastructure needs an additional CA $700 million of investment in order to service the 24 million tonnes of potash expected to flow from Saskatchewan and Alberta by 2020.
Neptune Terminals, a key Asian "gateway" port on Vancouver's North Shore, just finished a CA $49 million upgrade that increased its potash capacity to 11.5 MT/year.Investment in Canadian mining has grown significantly in the past year, with capital expenditures in the sector hitting CA $16 billion and potash making up $2.9 billion of that total. Companies like K+S Potash Canada (FWB: SDF) are a big part of this growth. Construction will begin at the company's $3.25 billion Legacy solution potash mine near Bethune, Saskatchewan this June. The project is the first new potash mine in Saskatchewan in 40 years, and says a lot about the long-term outlook of Canada's - and the world's - potash prospects. K+S is looking to begin production in 2015, and plans to bring 2.86 MT/year of potassium chloride to market by 2023. Junior mining news Ethiopian Potash Corp. (TSXV: FED) appears to be in dire straits. After releasing a number of bizarre press releases in recent months, Mackie Research Capital analyst Jaret Anderson has now stated that unless the company drastically alters its current exploration program and spending, it will soon be unable to meet its financial obligations.