PHILIPPSTHAL, Germany, July 3 Germany's K+S
has seen potash prices stabilise as farmers refill
inventories that were depleted when the collapse of one of the
world's two big cartels for the fertiliser mineral plunged the
sector into turmoil last year.
"We are even able to slightly increase prices in some
markets," management board member Andreas Radmacher told
journalists during a news conference at the group's Werra mine
in the central German town of Philippsthal.
Russian producer Uralkali last year quit a
powerful sales alliance with Belarus' Belaruskali, leading to
higher output volumes and lower prices, and prompting farmers
and potash import organisations across the globe to hold off on
orders in anticipation of a further drop in prices.
Prices bottomed out earlier this year, helping first-quarter
earnings at K+S beat market expectations, and Radmacher said
demand now exceeded the company's supply.
"We could deliver a lot more if we had volumes available,"
said Radmacher, but K+S's production is stuck at about 7 million
tonnes of potash per year until its expansion project in Canada
known as Legacy comes online in 2016.
"That is our real dilemma," Radmacher said.
He affirmed an estimate for the global potash market to grow
to about 60 million tonnes this year from 58.5 million last
K+S is also looking to expand its other main business, which
makes salt, and could eventually make acquisitions there. But
for the moment, Chief Executive Norbert Steiner said K+S would
concentrate on starting potash production at Legacy in Canada.
K+S, the world's No.1 salt supplier and owner of the Morton
Salt brand, aims to double annual operating profit from the salt
business to more than 250 million euros ($341 million) by 2020.
Last year, the salt business generated an operating profit
of 117.8 million euros, or about 18 percent of group profit.
($1 = 0.7331 Euros)
(Reporting by Andreas Kroener; Writing by Maria Sheahan,
editing by David Evans)