PotashCorp mine closure may see Canpotex port shelved

(Photo courtesy Agrium)

Reuters — PotashCorp’s decision this week to suspend production at its last New Brunswick mine may lead it to shelve plans to build a new West Coast shipping terminal with partners Mosaic Co. and Agrium, CEO Jochen Tilk said on Thursday.

Canpotex Ltd., owned by the three companies, has been considering construction of the terminal at Prince Rupert, B.C.

Saskatoon-based PotashCorp said Tuesday it would shut its newest mine, Picadilly, near Sussex, N.B., due to weak market conditions.

The company also said its port storage and loading facilities at Saint John, N.B., with capacity of handling 2.5 million tonnes annually, could now be used by Canpotex.

Canpotex exports potash that PotashCorp, Mosaic and Agrium produce in Saskatchewan.

The decision allows Canpotex to “indefinitely defer” a decision on the $900 million Prince Rupert terminal, PotashCorp’s Tilk said at a CIBC investor conference in Whistler, B.C.

“We certainly don’t anticipate making that decision in the next 10 years, so we’re very good with our port facilities on the West Coast and on the East Coast,” he said.

PotashCorp spokeswoman Denita Stann said after Tilk’s comments that he was speaking about options available to Canpotex and that it had not concluded any decision.

Canpotex could not be immediately reached.

Tilk also said PotashCorp’s board of directors would discuss the company’s dividend next week. Analysts have speculated PotashCorp will reduce its dividend.

Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent covering the agriculture and mining sectors from Winnipeg.

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