10 Top Potash-producing Countries

10 Top Potash-producing Countries

The potash price has been on the decline since 2013′s cartel breakup between Russia and Belarus, but the amount of potash on the world market is expected to increase over the next few years.

Specifically, the US Geological Survey (USGS) sees global potash production capacity reaching 61 million tonnes by 2018, up from the current 55 million tonnes.

Luckily for potash producers, demand for the fertilizer is poised to increase as well, though it is unlikely to keep pace with the world's rising production capacity. In 2015 the world consumed 36 million tonnes of potash, and that number should grow to 38 million tonnes over the next three years.

With those figures in mind, it's interesting to take a look at which countries produced the most potash in 2014. Here's an overview of the 10 top potash-producing countries that year, as per figures from the USGS.

1. Canada

Mine production: 9.8 million tonnes

Despite a decline in production between 2013 and 2014, Canada remains the world's top potash producer. Furthermore, the USGS believes that new mine development and the expansion of several existing mines in the country should solidify Canada's position at the top of the potash heap in years to come.

The country is home to the world's largest fertilizer company by capacity, PotashCorp (TSX: POT), which operates six Canadian potash mines. In response to falling potash prices, the company announced layoffs that affected 18 percent of its workforce at the end of 2013. Further changes to the company's workforce are possible in the future as it tries to adjust to the current potash market.

2. Russia

Mine production: 6.2 million tonnes

Russia boosted its potash production by 100,000 tonnes in 2014, and is home to some of the world's largest known potash reserves. Recently, Industrial Minerals reported that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank engaged in a loan deal worth over $500 million with Russian potash company Uralkali (OTCMKTS:URAYY). This move gave China greater control over global potash production, as Uralkali is responsible for 20 percent of the world's potash output.

3. China

Mine production: 4.4 million tonnes

China has an immense need for potash, and the country produces a significant amount of the substance at home. Demand far outstrips supply, however, and the country remains a net importer of potash. That gives the Asian nation incredible control over the market value of potash. Traditionally, Chinese potash buyers make deals with global suppliers in February of each year. These agreements set the tone for the potash price throughout the year. This year, Bloomberg reported deals were slow to materialize.

This schedule change represents "one more step toward dissolving the traditional patterns" in the potash market, according to Jason Miner, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

4. Belarus

Mine production: 4.3 million tonnes

Belarus' 2014 potash production came close behind that of China, and the country has historically been a major player in the global market. In 2014, marketing agreements between Belarusian and Russian producers dissolved, according to the USGS. This shift lessened potash producers' collective bargaining power, and contributed to the recent decline in the potash price.

5. Germany

Mine production: 3 million tonnes

Potash production in Germany declined by 200,000 tonnes over in 2014, but the country remains a top five producer overall. K+S (ETR:SDF), the biggest potash producer in Europe, is located in Germany, and maintains a variety of projects spread throughout Europe.

6. Israel

Mine production: 2.5 million tonnes

Israel is home to Israel Chemicals (TLV:ICL), the world's sixth-largest potash producer. The company recently entered into an agreement to supply China with 1.1 million tonnes of potash in the coming year. This move represents a continuation of China's efforts to consolidate its control of the global potash industry and ensure supply can meet domestic demand.

7. Chile

Mine production: 1.1 million tonnes

South America is a major potash consumer, with high demand from both Brazil and Chile, though Chile's production of the substance far outstrips that of its northern neighbor.

One of the country's largest producers, Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM), has come under fire for suspect activities related to political campaign funding. PotashCorp​ owns a 32-percent stake in the company, and recently withdrew its board members from the organization, according to Bloomberg. Further developments on this front could contribute to shifts in the worldwide potash supply and prices.

8. Jordan

Mine production: 1.1 million tonnes

Arab Potash Company is the largest potash producer in Jordan, and extracts potash from the Dead Sea. PotashCorp holds a 28-percent stake in Arab Potash Company, which makes it the company's largest shareholder. Jordan is a key potash supplier for India and Asia.

9. United States

Mine production: 850,000 tonnes

US potash production dropped to its lowest level in five years during 2014 as producers responded to the softening global market. The USGS identifies the closure of a mine in Michigan in late 2013 and lower production out of New Mexico as being partially responsible for the fall.

However, the report also states that new projects in New Mexico should ramp up to full production levels this year, and will likely increase US production in the coming years.

10. United Kingdom

Mine production: 470,000 tonnes

Potash production in the UK held steady from 2013 at 470,000 tonnes. The country is home to a single potash mine, operated by Cleveland Potash, which is owned by Israel Chemicals.

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(May 23, 2014)

Top 10 Potash-producing Countries in 2013

Though Canada and Russia account for the bulk of world potash production, there are still other countries producing significant amounts of the resource.

The US Geological Survey managed to fill all ten slots for top producers in its 2013 report on potash. Potash Investing News took a look at the survey to see who cracked the top ten list for potash producing countries for 2013.

1. Russia

Mine production: 15.3 million tons

Taking the top spot for potash production in 2013 is Russia who produced roughly 15.3 million tons of potash. While USGS reported that in 2013 Russia produced 5.3 tons of potash, the figures did not take into account Uralkali's production which was 10 million tonnes. Uralkali (LSE:URALL) is the world's largest potash producer. Recently, the chairman of Uralkali, Sergey Chemezov, has faced sanctions from the U.S. government in relation to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Chemezov is a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and holds a position as head of the state-owned arms company, Rostec, in addition to serving as the chairman of Uralkali.

The impact of the sanctions placed on Chemezov on the business dealings of Uralkali is as yet unknown.

2. Canada

Mine production: 10.5 million tons

In 2013, Canada produced 10.5 million tons of potash up from 8.98 million in 2013. The country has 46 percent of the world's potash reserves, according to Natural Resources Canada, and the majority may be found in the Prairie Evaporite Deposit in southern Saskatchewan.

Overall, there are ten potash mining and processing operations in Canada, nine of which are in Saskatchewan where the industry employs roughly 5,000 people. NARCAN reports the demand for potash is growing, and as a result producers are opening new projects and increasing activity at existing sites.

3. Belarus

Mine production: 4.9 million tons

When Russia's Uralkali and major Belarus potash corporation Belaruskali went their separate ways last July, potash prices dropped significantly meaning that producer profits took a hit, Reuters reported. Still, Belarus produced 4.9 million tons of potash to take third in last year's list of major producers. The country bumped up its production from 4.76 million tons in 2012, despite its lost partnership with the top Russian producer.

According to Reuters, many in the industry expect the two companies to reunite.

4. China

Mine production: 4.3 million tons

According to Passport Potash, China consumes 29 percent of the world's fertilizer, of which potash is a significant component. Still, the country ranked as the fourth largest producer of potash for 2013, coming in with 4.3 million tons of potash production, increasing its output from 4.1 million tons in 2012.

China has several of its own production companies, including Qinghai Salt Lake Potash Company Limited (SZSE:000792), a state-owned enterprise that has been listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange since 1997. Qinghai Salt Lake is the country's largest producer of the mineral.

5. Germany

Mine production: 3 million tons

Germany produced 3 million tons of potash in 2013, down from 3.12 million tons in 2012, according to the USGS. The country is home to K+S AG (FRA:SDF1), formerly Kali und Salz GmbH, the largest supplier of potash in Europe. Founded in 1889, K+S AG operates in several countries around the world and also owns a large number of sites for both production and processing in Germany. The company accounts for much of Germany's potash production.

6. Israel

Mine production: 2 million tons

A major figure in the potash industry is the Dead Sea Works potash plant in Sdom, on the coast of the Dead Sea. It is a business unit of the ICL Group (TLV:ICL), and is the fourth largest producing and processing site for potash products in the world. According to its website, the ICL Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of fertilizers of all kinds, including phosphate and potash.

Israel came in sixth for potash production this 2013, increasing production to 2 million tons this year from 1.9 million in 2012.

7. Jordan

Mine production: 1.2 million tons

Jordan produced 1.2 million tons of potash in 2013, up from 1.09 million in 2012, according to the USGS. The Arab Potash Company is the most active producer in Jordan. It also produces potash from the minerals of the Dead Sea, and has been doing so since 1983. The company has a concession from the Jordanian Government to exploit, manufacture and market the mineral resources found in the Dead Sea until 2058. The company employs more than 2,000 people at its three sites in the country.

8. Chile

Mine production: 1.1 million

Chile came in at number eight with 1.1 million tons of potash produced in 2013. The nation increased its production this year from 1.05 million tons in last year, according to the USGS.

Sociedad Quimica y Minera (NYSE:SQM), based in Santiago, Chile, is a potash-related company that also produces lithium and iodine from brines at Salar de Atacama in Chile's northern regions. The country also several projects under the management of junior resource companies.

9. United States

Mine production: 970,000 tons

Total potash production for the United States was worth $649 million in 2013, coming mostly from Michigan, New Mexico and Utah. The country put out 970,000 tons of potash for the year, a relatively significant increase from 2012 when it produced just 900,000 tons of the resource. The center of U.S. potash production is New Mexico, two mines are operated by three companies, while Utah also has three potash operations. Michigan's only potash operation has now closed.

U.S. potash goes largely to the fertilizer industry, with leftovers finding their way to the chemical sector.

10. United Kingdom

Mine production: 436,000 tons

Last and least, the U.K. produced the same amount of potash as it did for 2012, coming in with 436,000 tons of the resource in 2013. The UK's Boulby potash mine, operated by Cleveland Potash of the ICL Group, is located in the North York Moors and is the second-deepest mine in all of Europe. Notably, it features an extensive network of underground roads.

10 Top Potash-producing Countries from Potash Investing News