The resource economy in Saskatchewan felt the pain of downturns in the potash market and resulting cost-saving measures Wednesday, when Potash giant Nutrien announced that up to 750 employees at three of its Saskatchewan mines will be affected by temporary layoffs.
It’s the latest move in an industry that has seen over-supply issues for years — and while marginal gains have Nutrien projecting a positive outlook, one Saskatchewan expert predicts the market will continue to suffer, at least for a few more years.
One of the goals of the merger of PotashCorp and Agrium that formed Nutrien was to produce $500 million in savings each year, but “you don’t pull that out of the air,” said University of Saskatchewan professor Brooke Dobni, who specializes in analysis of the province’s potash industry.
“That’s got to come from real differences and techniques and decisions.” Nutrien said in a statement issued on Wednesday the production downtime, slated to start in November, is in response to a “short-term slowdown in global potash markets.”
Nutrien reported a net income from continuing operations of $741 million last year. A second-quarter report this year indicated a net income of $858 million.
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