January 16, 2013 / 2:40 PM / 5 years ago

North American potash supplies rise in December

* Inventories 37 pct above 5-year average

* Supplies swell after China and India contract delays

Jan 16 (Reuters) - North American potash inventories at the producer level, a main indicator of market sentiment, edged up in December to their highest level since March, according to the world’s top producer of the crop nutrient, Potash Corp.

Stockpiles of potassium chloride, the crop nutrient more commonly known as potash, rose 2.8 percent to 3.145 million tonnes, according to data posted on Potash Corp’s website.

Inventories of the crop nutrient at the producer level now stand 37 percent above the previous five-year average.

Spot potash prices have eased to roughly $460 per tonne.

Potash supplies have swollen as top global consumers China and India delayed signing new supply contracts with Canpotex, the offshore marketing company owned by Potash Corp, Agrium Inc and Mosaic Co. Canpotex announced a six-month contract with China on Dec. 31.

Potash exports by the North American producers bumped up sharply in December over the previous month to 586,000 tonnes, but were still 20 percent below the pace set a year earlier.

Domestic sales, mainly to the United States, were flat from a year earlier at 467,000 tonnes.

Three mines operated by Potash Corp, the world’s biggest producer by capacity, are currently shut down temporarily as the company whittles down supplies.

The vast majority of the potash produced in North America is mined in the Western Canadian province of Saskatchewan, where Potash Corp has its headquarters.

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