What is Potash?
Potash is the common name given to a group of minerals and chemicals that contain potassium, which is a basic nutrient for plants and an important ingredient in fertilizer. It is mined from underground deposits which are formed from evaporated seabed’s from millions of years ago.
Potassium is an important element because when there is a potassium deficiency in the soil, fertilizers containing potassium are used to help boost crop yields and improve the quality of the plants. It is an essential element for all plant, animal, and human life.
Fertilizers are actually food for plants. As plants grow, they absorb and deplete nutrients from the soil, and farmers harvest them when they harvest the crops. Potash is also used in detergents, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, and others.
Potash in Canada
As further background, potash is America’s first industrial chemical, patented in 1790. But the world’s largest producer and exporter of potash is Canada, which also has the world’s largest potash reserves, with 1.1 billion tonnes of potash (potassium oxide equivalent). 90% is exported by Canada’s CP Rail via the ports in British Columbia and Oregon.
All of it is produced in Saskatchewan – the largest potash producer in the world and the sole producer in Canada – accounting for about 30% of global potash production. Over the last 15 years, the potash industry has committed approximately $30 billion of investment for new mines and expansions.
Increased potash sales based on a growing worldwide demand
Geopolitics and rising demand have placed Saskatchewan’s potash mining sector in the spotlight amid surging revenues. The need is critical for a dependable global producer to help feed the world. Saskatchewan’s potash sales have increased to nearly $11.9 billion, up more than 186%, from 2021 to 2022.
The example of BHP Canada, Jansen Mine
While prices will likely remain solid, demand will grow. This is based on the war in Ukraine and the strategy to get supplies from secure and ethical sources like Canada. BHP Canada’s $7.5-billion Jansen mine, currently under construction, is slated to go into production in 2027. BHP now aims at speeding up the project to start operations in 2026. This is the first mine in Saskatchewan in 30 years. Additionally, Nutrien, K+S Potash Canada, and The Mosaic Company are all are ramping up production. The need for potash is also growing amid higher temperatures and drought, especially because it is used to make potassium, which strengthens plant cell while making them more resistant to heat and drought.
Given Saskatchewan’s substantial potash reserves, the sector will continue to drive investment, create new jobs, and bring opportunities to the people of Saskatchewan.