Is potash a critical mineral? It is in Canada, and could soon be one in the U.S. too – by Leslie Hook (Financial Times/Financial Post – August 22, 2023)

The Ukraine war thrust fertilizer minerals to the centre of the food security debate

The vital role of fertilizer minerals in food production has propelled a niche corner of the mining industry to the centre of a global debate about the security of supplies. Potash and phosphate rock surged in price after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. In June, United States lawmakers even proposed adding them to the country’s list of critical minerals in new legislation in Congress.

“Our food security is our national security, so when we’re dependent on Russian and Chinese minerals for the fertilizer that grows our crops, we are putting ourselves at risk,” said Democrat congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, one of the sponsors of the bill.

Several of the West’s largest mining companies have already begun to expand into fertilizer production, anticipating that the world’s increasing population will deliver continued growth in demand.

Potash and phosphate are crucial crop nutrients: potash is a source of potassium that helps crops such as corn and soybeans increase their yield; phosphate rock provides plants with phosphorus. These two compounds, alongside nitrogen, are the foundation of modern fertilizers.

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