October 15, 2008 / 2:36 PM / 10 years ago

Russian sinkhole again threatens potash route

MOSCOW, Oct 15 (Reuters) - A fissure in the ground is renewing a threat to potash shipments by Russian miner Silvinit SILV.MM to world markets, the head of the institute monitoring the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

Silvinit, which supplies around 10 percent of world demand for the soil nutrient, is using a replacement rail spur to move potash to market after its main transport link was severed last year when a mine belonging to a rival collapsed.

The 350-metre (yard) sinkhole that resulted from the collapse has slowly been spreading toward the replacement rail spur.

A one-metre-wide crack is now spreading from the sinkhole toward the replacement spur, said Arkady Grinberg, general director of the Galurgiya Institute, which is monitoring the sinkhole for the Russian government.

“It is clearly making the situation more precarious, but then again, we always expected the sinkhole to grow,” he said.

Silvinit spokesman Anton Subbotin said potash transport was continuing as usual.

“We are not panicking, and there are no plans to halt production or shipments,” Subbotin said.

Another replacement line is scheduled for completion by the fourth quarter of 2009.

“Until then, I guess we will have to live with this crack,” Grinberg said.

“Yes, it may grow, but for now we don’t think the situation is critical.” (Reporting by Simon Shuster in Moscow and Natalya Shurmina in Yekaterinburg; editing by Michael Roddy)

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