Alberta floods stop potash shipments to Canada's West Coast

June 24 Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:12pm EDT

June 24 (Reuters) - Floods in Alberta have temporarily halted the movement of potash from mines to West Coast ports and shut a big beef processing plant and a fertilizer plant, but companies do not expect the impact to last for long.

Richard Downey, spokesman for Agrium Inc, which owns export marketing agency Canpotex Ltd with Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc and Mosaic Co, said potash shipments to the West Coast from mines in Saskatchewan likely stopped late last week, but should resume within days after delays equivalent to those from a winter snowstorm.

The mines in Saskatchewan, the province that holds more than 40 percent of the world's known reserves of the crop nutrient, are not affected by the flooding.

Floods also led to the closing of Cargill Ltd's big beef-processing plant at High River, Alberta and CF Industries Holdings Inc's nitrogen fertilizer complex at Medicine Hat, Alberta.

The flood has had no significant impact on potash shipments from Canadian mines to North American markets, said Mosaic spokesman Rob Litt.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd reopened its main line west of Calgary through the Banff-Canmore region of Alberta on Monday and it expected to restore a segment of its south line to Lethbridge, Alberta, by Thursday.

The lines of Canadian National Railway Co lie outside the main flooded area and a CN spokesman said the company had not been affected.

Cargill said it closed its beef-processing plant as of Friday due to flooded roads and disruption of the fresh water supply.

The plant is one of Canada's two biggest beef facilities, slaughtering 4,500 head of cattle daily. It is expected to resume meat production on Tuesday and slaughtering on Wednesday, assuming fresh water is available, spokesman Mike Martin said.

JBS USA Holdings Inc spokesman Cameron Bruett said the company's beef plant at Brooks, Alberta, was operating normally. It was also business as usual at Agrium's nitrogen fertilizer plant at Carseland, Alberta, and Methanex Corp's methanol plant in Medicine Hat, Alberta, company officials said.

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