How is potash shake-up affecting local industry?
Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013 7:01PM ADT
The potash industry has seen prices and company shares plunge, in response to events on the other side of the planet.
However, one of the region’s biggest industrial employers says it is business as usual in the Maritimes, despite turmoil elsewhere.
“We’re here for the long term,” says Stewart Brown, mine manager at Potash Corp. “The investments that we’ve made in Saskatchewan and here in New Brunswick are here for the long term.”
The $20-billion global potash market was thrown into disarray this week with the collapse of a European cartel. Some analysts predict the price of potash will plunge by 25 per cent.
However, Potash Corp says it has weathered market volatility in the past.
“In the 30 or 40 years that Potash Corp has been mining potash in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, the price has gone up and the price has gone down,” says Brown. “It is a cyclical business. There are times we have to shut down our operations due to lack of sales, but at the end of that, we go back into business and do what we do best.”
Hundreds of mining jobs in New Brunswick depend on potash exports. The mine is a pillar of the Sussex economy, but the economic impact reaches far beyond the town, throughout southern New Brunswick and into the Port of Saint John.
Construction of a new mine - a $1.7-billion mega project - is nearing completion and according to the province’s natural resources minister, Bruce Northrup, that project assures a long-term future.
“When you spend $1.7 billion on an expansion, they’ve done their homework and they’re going to be here for a long time,” says Northrup. “My understanding is that the quantity of potash and salt that they mine, there is at least 40 or 50 years.”
Another, more recent player in the industry is also offering reassurances. Atlantic Potash Corporation is exploring near Sussex, with an eye to opening another mine and perhaps a fertilizer plant in Saint John.
In a statement, the company says it is monitoring the situation and at this time their plans have not changed.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron