Saskferco now “Yara Belle Plaine”

The Saskatchewan government and the Mosaic Company have sealed their $1.6 billion deal to sell Regina-based nitrogen maker Saskferco to a major chemical firm from Norway.

Yara International on Wednesday officially assumed control of Saskferco, whose holdings include a fertilizer plant at Belle Plaine, about 30 km east of Moose Jaw, and a warehouse at Carman, Man., about 80 km southwest of Winnipeg.

Oslo-based Yara has said its new fertilizer entity will continue to be headquartered in Regina and it doesn’t expect to make any “significant changes in staffing levels, strategic orientations or operations.”

Saskferco’s 16-year-old Belle Plaine facility. previously billed by Mosaic as “one of the world’s most efficient nitrogen production facilities,” will now operate as Yara Belle Plaine Inc.

The plant, which will be Yara’s only production capacity in North America so far, produces about 2,850 tonnes of urea, 1,860 tonnes of anhydrous ammonia and 670 tonnes of UAN solution (28-0-0) per day.

“The completion of the sale of Saskferco is a key step in our strategic plan and will allow us to focus on our core phosphate and potash businesses,” said Mosaic CEO Jim Prokopanko in that company’s release.

“Working with the government of Saskatchewan and Saskferco has been an excellent experience for Mosaic. We wish Yara much success as Saskferco’s new owner.”

Minnesota-based Mosaic, formed in 2004 from a merger by IMC Global and Cargill Crop Nutrition, laid out plans in April to spend $3.15 billion expanding its potash mines at three sites in Saskatchewan over the next 12 years.

Mosaic said in a release Wednesday that it’s entitled to half the proceeds from the sale, which the two main owners first announced in July. The Saskatchewan government, which held a 49 per cent share through Investment Saskatchewan, said Wednesday it will get $783 million.

The province said Wednesday it has invested $68.5 million in the company between 1989 and 1993, and Investment Saskatchewan, a provincial Crown investment company, has received over $209 million in dividends since it bought into Saskferco.

“This is one of the largest transactions in Saskatchewan’s history, and the results will benefit the province in many ways,” Premier Brad Wall said Wednesday. “The use of sale proceeds will be the subject of future announcements.”

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