A tale of two minerals: Overproduction, low demand, weak prices dog potash, uranium mining – by Bruce Johnstone (Regina Leader-Post – May 27, 2016)


With apologies to Charles Dickens, it was the best of times and worst of times for Saskatchewan’s mining industry in 2015.

Both production volume and value of Saskatchewan’s most important mineral resources — potash and uranium — were up in 2015 over 2014. And, for the first time ever, Saskatchewan was ranked second in terms of the value of mineral production among Canada’s mining provinces last year.

But by the fourth quarter of 2015 and first quarter of 2016, overproduction and low prices resulted in potash and uranium mine shutdowns and layoffs.According to Natural Resources Canada, the value of Saskatchewan’s mineral production was $8.5 billion in 2015, with a nearly 20 per cent share of Canadian mineral production.

Ontario ranked first at $10.8 billion, with a 25 per cent share, while Quebec ranked third at $7.7 billion (18 per cent) and B.C. fourth at $5.9 billion (14 per cent).  Potash production was up nearly five per cent in 2015 to 11.35 million tonnes from 10.8 million tonnes in 2014, NRCan says. Virtually all of that potash, close to 11 million tonnes, was produced in Saskatchewan.

“Potash remained the top-ranked non-metallic commodity by value with mine shipments valued at $6.7 billion in 2015,” NRCan says of the mineral used in the production of fertilizer.

“Potash’s growth of almost 20 per cent or more than $1 billion represents the greatest gain of all Canadian mineral commodities for 2015. This gain was the result of increased volume and positive impact of the exchange rate for domestic producers. Canada is the world’s largest potash producer.”

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