Potash miner makes billion dollar bet prices won’t fall below $400

During the last week of July, Uralkali blasted the global potash market wide open sending stock prices in the sector tumbling.

Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner’s move was supposed to move potash from a clubby system of tightly controlled global supply and set prices to an open market where volume and cost-based pricing is key.

Baumgertner predicted at the time the price of potash would fall 25% to below $300 a tonne in short order.

Fast forward two-and-half months and the full effects of the breakup of the Russia-Belarus oligopoly that controlled more than 40% of world exports have not really been felt.

Canada’s Potashcorp said in September the market for the crop nutrient is essentially paralyzed with all the big players waiting to see who would blink first on price and production.

The price of potash FOB Vancouver is hovering around the $400 a tonne level where it was before the Baumgertner bombshell.

Now K+S AG (OTCMKTS:KPLUY), Europe’s biggest producer of potash, said it is even prepared to put its credit rating at risk to raise $1.4 billion in fresh funding for a project in Canada.

Bloomberg reports K+S is this confident about the bond issue that will fund around a third of its $4.1 billion Legacy mine because the Germany company predicts prices for potash are not going to go lower than $400 a tonne.

Tough talk from a company that has almost halved in value this year and is now worth under $5 billion.

The Legacy mine, currently under construction, is expected to start production by the end of 2016, ramping up to two million tonnes per year in 2017 and reaching full capacity of 2.86 million tonnes by 2023.

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