/ By Clive Minchom/
The world’s largest potash consortium is in jeopardy after Russian company Uralkali JSE (LSE: URKA) backed away from a market sharing arrangement with its partner in Belarus, Belaruskili . Uralkili is now in contact with India and Brazil on new potash contracts, and to gain market share – at the expense of unit price.
Some analysts now predict world potash prices may tumble all the way to $300 per ton down from the present a little over $400. How much of world supply and demand is met under long term contracts is also a factor.
The world’s top six potash producers control 80 percent of the world’s supply. These include Potash corporation of Canada, Agrium and Mosaic.
The top four producers belong to two “marketing organizations” that negotiate prices and contracts. Like OPEC in the oil business, everyone has had quotas.
Israel Chemicals, subsidiary of Israel Corp, has fitted in between the cracks of these marketing arrangements, being responsible for just 11% of world potash production, and its shares were affected badly today following the announcement- initially falling by 17% reflecting the new uncertainties.
A fall in potash prices may be bad for potash industry stocks, yet good for the world’s farmers. India and China who buy millions of tons of potash for fertilizer every year will certainly not be complaining.