15 January 2009 18:12 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Fertilizer major Agrium said on Thursday that it will push back possible layoffs another month at its potash plant in Canada's Saskatchewan province in hopes that demand will rise in the spring.
Agrium had originally sent out layoff notices to 380 union workers for a possible 10 February shutdown, but the company said adjusted staff assignments and reduced capacity have allowed it to delay layoff notices until 11 March.
The facility has been running at 50-70% capacity, and maintenance is being done in a particular area of the plant, staving off employee reductions until demand hopefully picks up in the spring, said Richard Downey, Agrium's director of investor relations.
The Vanscoy plant in Saskatchewan has a capacity of 1.635m tonnes/year of potassium chloride, according to data from global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.
The layoff notices are part of the company's protocol with the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5225, under which Agrium provides advance warning of any worker reduction at Vanscoy.
Agrium has reduced rates at most of its fertilizer production plants including a complete shutdown of its Fort Saskatchewan nitrogen facility in Alberta, but Downey said it will come back on line shortly.
Downey had no details on the date or capacity for the Fort Saskatchewan restart, but he said urea capacity will be running at full rates.
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