Agrium plans W. Sask. potash mine expansion

Fertilizer and ag retail giant Agrium has approved a project to ramp up its potash production capacity at Vanscoy, Sask. by 50 per cent.

The Calgary company on Wednesday said its board has approved the brownfield expansion at Vanscoy, about 20 km southwest of Saskatoon, to begin next year for completion by the second half of 2014.

The project, which will see conveyor and hoisting system upgrades and a new processing train added to the existing facility, will eventually bring the site’s total nameplate capacity to three million tonnes per year, Agrium said.

"We believe that our brownfield potash expansion will ultimately be much quicker to bring on, and significantly less expensive to develop, than any greenfield project that is under consideration," Agrium CEO Mike Wilson said in a release.

Capital expenditure for the project is expected to run about $1,500 per tonne, the company said. Once the project is complete, expansion to its full capacity would be reached sometime in 2015.

Agrium, the third-biggest potash miner in North America, produced 1.8 million tonnes of potash in 2010 with total net sales of US$646 million.

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