Canada PotashCorp reduces size of layoffs on market tightness

16 June 2014 23:56 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Citing ongoing tightness in the potash market, Canadian fertilizer producer PotashCorp has reduced some of its planned layoffs at its Penobsquis facility located in New Brunswick, the company said on Monday.

In December 2013, the producer said it would be reducing its work force by 1,045, approximately 18% of its employees, across its fertilizer segments due to sluggish demand for products, namely potash and phosphate. The company also announced at the time it would be lowering or ceasing production at its mines.

In a statement, the company said the rescinded layoffs will impact an estimated 50 employees who were set to receive notices and that the extension in employment and operations will allow continued production from the Penobsquis mine. The producer did not specify how long the extension would be beyond describing it as 'temporary'. 

That facility was previously anticipated to cease potash production by the second quarter as the producer starts its Picadilly operation, also located in New Brunswick. Officials did confirm that ramp-up activities are continuing on schedule, with initial production at the mine expected during the fourth quarter.

Highlighting the current tightness in the market, PotashCorp said that supplies of the crop nutrient had fallen in May to their lowest levels since September 2012. In its monthly market update, the company said production of potash in North America last month was down by 3% from April and lower by 14% year on year.

In terms of exports, May volumes were up by 2% from the previous month and were 5% higher than the previous year. May ending inventory for North American producers was down by 198,000 tonnes compared with April.

By Mark Milam