The Dnieper-Donets Basin of Ukraine could contain an estimated 4.3 billion tons of undiscovered potassium-bearing salt according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey assessment. In addition, previous estimates show that the nearby Pripyat Basin of Belarus could contain 80–200 billion metric tons of undiscovered potash resources.
The term “potash” refers to potassium-bearing, water-soluble salts like potassium chloride derived from evaporite basins, where seawater evaporated and precipitated various salt compounds. In 2010, world potash production was about 33 million metric tons, mostly for use in fertilizers.
Potash resources are often expressed in terms of the amount of potassium oxide (K2O) that can be obtained from the potassium-bearing salt. For instance, the 4.3 billion tons of potassium-bearing salt in the Dnieper-Donets Basin is the equivalent of 840 million tons K2O, while the 80–200 billion metric tons of potassium-bearing salt in the Pripyat Basin could contain 15-30 billion metric tons of K2O.
Canada was the largest producer of potash (9.5 million metric tons in 2010), followed by Russia, Belarus, China, Germany, Israel and Jordan. Potash is produced in many countries throughout the world, but production is concentrated in North America and Eurasia. Each of the 12 major potash-producing countries produced 1 million metric ton or more in 2010; production from other countries was less than 1 million metric ton each.
The Pripyat Basin in Belarus is currently the third largest global producer of potassium-bearing salts, and published reserves in the Pripyat Basin are about 7.3 billion metric tons of potassium-bearing salt (or about 1.3 to 1.4 billion metric tons of K2O). Published potash resources in the Pripyat Basin are estimated to depths of about 1,200 meters.
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