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PotashCorp completes Rocanville expansion

VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Canadian potash major Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan has completed an expansion at its Rocanville operation, more than doubling capacity and the workforce to become the world’s largest potash mine.

The $3-billion investment lifted the mine’s nameplate capacity to 6.5-million, up from 3-million pre-expansion, and the mine now employs 750 people.

The expansion included a new mine shaft – the first built in Saskatchewan since 1979 – as well as a new mill, a new 500 000 t storage facility, and new rail and rail loadout equipment. The company also converted the existing service shaft, used for people and materials, into a second production shaft, for bringing ore out of the mine.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based PotashCorp last month advised that it would fully rely on its lowest-cost Rocanville operations, while the Allan operation would curtail output for ten weeks, starting on November 19. The Lanigan mine will also curtail production for eight weeks, starting on December 3.

Signs point to a slow but steady recovery of potash market recovery, but prices are bogged down by surplus capacity. Recent months saw first production reach export markets from K+S Potash Canada’s new $4.6-billion Bethune mine, in southern Saskatchewan, which will add two-million tonnes a year at full tilt.

PotashCorp forecast global demand of 62-million to 65-million tonnes this year, up from an earlier forecast of 61-million to 64-million tonnes.

Its “merger of equals” with Agrium will see the creation of a new $36-billion entity, to be named Nutrien.

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