PotashCorp Paints Positive Picture for Industry, Rabobank Says "Not So Fast"

June 27, 2012 09:34 AM

And interesting contrast between PotashCorp's view of the potash industry and Rabobank's view surfaced at the website Agrimoney.com, a United Kingdom-based analytical service. The website pointed out that PotashCorp, the world's largest potash company by volume, painted a bullish picture for potash demand and prices saying the industry ""could be challenged to meet the world's rising potash demand in the years ahead."

"While some observers believe new potash supply could outpace the global need in the coming years, what is often overlooked is the challenge for mines… to achieve full operational capacity. For most of 2011, reported geological, logistical and operational issues constrained the industry's ability to meet underlying demand, highlighting the need for new capacity," the company is quoted as saying. Agrimoney goes on to quote PotashCorp chief executive Bill Doyle as saying: "This business is real easy to talk about -- it's much harder to do. There are no greenfield projects coming on in the next five years, between now and 2017. None."

Hmmmm. See First New Potash Mine in Canada in More Than 40 Years published in InputsMonitor.com yesterday.

Rabobank counters that the recent surge in potash prices since 2007 has prompted smaller companies to invest in expanded production (again, see First New Potash Mine in Canada in More Than 40 Years) with more than 60 new projects underway. This expanded production will challenge the dominance of the market by the few large players. They see a market set for an overrun in capacity of at least 59%, compared to potash supplies on the open market, and potentially 100%, by the end of the decade, with implications of lower prices. The firm also sees some risk key importing countries such as China and Brazil may go ahead and invest in new mines as a way of spreading their risk.

"Growing import reliance, frustration from one-sided contract negotiations with suppliers and the strategic importance of potash for the sustainability of their growing agricultural sector are the primary drivers for these countries to invest in greenfield projects. The 'sizeable number' of mines being developed by junior companies meant 'there are clearly plenty of options for importers to choose from'. In the end, it is mainly geopolitical and long-term strategic security parameters that justify such investments," Agrimoney concludes.

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