Potash Prices Still Sluggish, Could Be Affecting Potential Jansen Partnerships: BHP
Potash prices have been slow to rebound a year following Uralkali's exit from Belarus Potash Company. That could cause trouble for BHP Billiton as the miner looks for a partner for its proposed Jansen potash mine in Saskatchewan.
This week, BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT) announced that it plans to spin off some US$16 billion in businesses in order to focus on iron, copper, coal, petroleum and possibly potash. However, the company has said that the current state of the potash market may be an extra hurdle in terms of making the crop nutrient its fifth pillar. As Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, the miner sees current potash prices as a deterrent for prospective partners for its Jansen project. The proposed mine is located in Saskatchewan, Canada and could become one of the world's largest potash mines. Still moving slowly Since Russia's Uralkali parted ways with Belarusian Potash Company last year, potash prices have been slow to rebound. Although there was some stronger market sentiment earlier this year on dwindling producer inventories, the problem of oversupply still remains the biggest risk for the industry, as noted in a July 22 article from The Motley Fool. Case in point: Potash Investing News wrote back in June that Uralkali was looking to mitigate the potash oversupply problem by cutting its 2014 production target in order to support prices. At the time, the company announced plans to keep an eye on the market when setting its production levels moving forward. However, PotashCorp was still planning to up its potash production. As MINING.com states, prices for potash dropped to roughly $300 a tonne by December 2013 — a 30-percent drop that brought the commodity to a six-year low. Prices have climbed back to roughly $350 per tonne, but experts are saying that BHP needs a potash price closer to $500 per tonne in order to cover its construction costs for Jansen.