India alarm over ‘potash cartel’ grows

India’s Department of Fertilisers raised concerns with the country’s Foreign Affairs minister on Thursday over 2011 prices set by Canpotex, the company that markets and distributes Saskatchewan’s potash globally.

India’s farming co-ops have halted imports due to the impasse and while waiting for a government decision on import subsidies. At over 6 million tonnes/year India is the biggest importer but says it pays much higher prices than a country like China can negotiate.

The Business Standard reports while China had been able to source potash at $400 a tonne this financial year, the international potash cartel led by Canada-based Canpotex has urged India to buy it at $500 a tonne. India is arguing that as a volume importer it should not be paying open market prices.

Last week reported Israel’s ICL Fertilizers will sell potash to its Chinese customers at $470 a ton, $70 a ton higher than prices to China during the first half of 2011 in a new $235 million deal.

At the end of June reported on the chief executive of Russian potash producer Uralkali telling an investment conference in Moscow that spot potash prices could reach $600 per tonne by the end of the year.

In May reported that India’s Tata Chemical announced its first foray into the US potash market by buying a stake in company developing a Utah prospect on the same day talks between India and producers at the International Fertilizer Industry Association’s annual conference in Montreal broke down.

Picture of tea pluckers in Assam India by Dana Ward /