PotashCorp shuts mine citing weak markets

(Reuters) — Weak conditions in the potash market will not improve any time soon, Potash Corp said Jan. 19 as it announced it would suspend operations indefinitely at a Canadian mine.

PotashCorp said it was putting its Picadilly mine in New Brunswick on care and maintenance, resulting in the loss of 420 to 430 jobs.

Potash prices have fallen sharply over the past year, under pressure from bloated capacity, soft grain prices and weak currencies in major consumers such as India and Brazil, one of Potash Corp’s largest customers.

“We don’t see in the short term how things will turn around quickly that would change the environment,” said chief executive officer Jochen Tilk.

“We are repositioning the company in light of that, but we are still optimistic on the long-term prospects for our business.”

Potash Corp’s stock has fallen 45 percent in the past 12 months.

The company, which is the world’s biggest fertilizer company by capacity, has in recent months closed its Penobsquis potash mine in New Brunswick and suspended production at three mines in Sask-atchewan as demand for potash falls worldwide.

PotashCorp, which had more than 5,000 employees worldwide at the end of 2014, said it would keep 35 employees at Picadilly to keep the operation in “care-and-maintenance” mode.

About 100 affected employees could be relocated to Saskatchewan.

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