Saskatchewan’s history of potash, politics and profit (Regina Leaderpost – September 28, 2013)

1943: Geological surveys and exploratory drilling reveals that Saskatchewan has one of the largest potash deposits in the world.

1951: First commercial production potash mine is attempted by Western Potash Corporation Limited in the Unity district. Numerous delays and flooding make the project unsuccessful.

1958: Potash is first produced by Potash Company of America (PCA) near Saskatoon. The mine floods the next year and does not return to production until 1965.

1960: 1970: Potash production in Saskatchewan has been continuous since 1962: Ten mines are built in Saskatchewan for less than $300 million by six different companies. Referenced by: company name, location (year of initial production). Potash Company of America, Saskatoon (1958); International Minerals and Chemical Corporation (IMC), Yarbo K-1 (1962); Kalium Chemicals Limited, Belle Plaine (1964);

IMC, Gerald K-2 (1967); Allan Potash Mines, Allan (1968); Duval Corporation of Canada, Saskatoon (1968); Alwinsal Potash of Canada Limited, Guernsey (1968); Central Canada Potash, Colonsay (1969); Cominco Ltd., Vanscoy (1969); Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. Limited, Rocanville (1970).

1962: IMC’s K-1 mine makes the first sale of potash to Japan.

Early 1970s: 2,700 people are employed by the Saskatchewan’s potash industry.

1970: Canpotex is formed to market Saskatchewan potash outside of the U.S and Canada to foreign markets.

1970: Ross Thatcher’s Liberal government introduces a prorationing system to stabilize potash production and prices in Saskatchewan during a period of reduced industry profitability.

1974: Allan Blakeney’s NDP government introduces a “reserve tax,” similar to a property tax, that imposes a tax rate on potash reserves held by each corporation. Previous royalty taxes were set between one and four per cent of sales.

1975: Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS), a crown corporation, is created with the objective of increasing revenues, encouraging expansion and ensuring a degree of public ownership. PCS purchases the Allan, Duval, Alwinsal and Hudson Bay mines.

1978: The United States Bureau of Mines estimates that Canada has half of the world’s total potash resources – weighing in at 70 billion tonnes – and almost all of it is in Saskatchewan.

1979: The NDP negotiates a new taxation system with the potash industry that reduces taxes and royalties by approximately 25 per cent.

1985: Canpotex moves its head office from Toronto to Saskatoon.

1987: The Government of Saskatchewan introduces another prorationing system in response to dumping duties being levied on the potash industry in the U.S.

1987: A water inflow closes the PCA mine at Patience Lake in February 1987. The mine returns to production as a solution mine in mid-1989 at a significantly reduced level of capacity.

1988: Grant Devine’s Progressive Conservative government privatizes PCS.

1989: A new potash resource tax system called the Potash Production Tax is introduced.

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