While Brazil’s biggest mining company exits the fertilizer industry, Canada’s leading potash exporter Canpotex Ltd. is boosting its operations in a country that is expected to lead the world in food production over the next 30 years. The Saskatoon-based company that markets potash from Canadian mines to farmers around the world is expected to shed more light on its upcoming Brazilian activities soon.
Canpotex’s CEO Ken Steitz said that the business expansion is part of the company’s $1 billion investment to better position itself as a major fertilizer player in South America’s largest agricultural market. Brazil’s increasingly advanced agricultural sector expands crop yields and converts cattle ranches into farms. Mr. Seitz said that in the past ten years, Brazil’s use of crop nutrient increased by 40 percent, while crop production went up by 72 percent. Brazilian farmers used approximately 10 million metric tons of potash last year and imported 90 percent of their fertilizer needs from six countries including Russia, Morocco, Germany and Belarus. Last year, Canpotex supplied almost three million tons of potash to Brazilian farmers.
Brazil is the largest importer of potash in the world and Canpotex is boosting its presence in the country after Rio de Janeiro-based Vale, one of the world’s largest mining companies, exited the market as a competitor. Vale was acquired by Minneapolis-based Mosaic Co. for $1.4-billion in a contract that closed at the beginning of this year, as part of a restructuring aimed at paying down debt. Canpotex, which is owned by the newly formed Nutrien and the Canadian arm of Mosaic, is responsible for the potash sales of the two companies outside North America.