PotashCorp to idle biggest Sask. mines, again

Citing its practice of “matching supply with market demand,” the world’s biggest potash miner has announced eight-week Christmas shutdowns for each of its two biggest mines in Saskatchewan.

PotashCorp on Wednesday said it has served notice to staff at its biggest mine at Lanigan, Sask., about 45 km south of Humboldt, that the mine won’t operate from Nov. 18 this year until Jan. 12, 2013.

Meanwhile, staff at the Saskatoon company’s mine at Rocanville, about 125 km southeast of Yorkton, have been told the mine won’t operate from Dec. 2 this year until Jan. 26, 2013.

The Lanigan and Rocanville mines are the company’s largest potash mines by operational capacity, at 3.3 million and 2.7 million tonnes of potash per year respectively.

The Rocanville mine is also in the midst of a major expansion project, expected to be finished in 2014, with ramp-up to follow by 2015 that would see the mine’s operational capacity rise to 5.7 million tonnes per year. A 526,000-tonne capacity warehouse is also being built at the Rocanville site.

The kilometre-deep Lanigan mine had just come off a month-long shutdown from Sept. 15 to Oct. 13, and had previously been idled from Jan. 8 through March this year.

The Rocanville mine was offline from Christmas 2011 through March 2012, while the company’s mine at Allan, Sask. was shut down from Feb. 5 to March 3.

The Lanigan and Rocanville mines had 588 and 475 employees respectively in fiscal 2011.

PotashCorp on Wednesday also issued earnings guidance for fiscal 2012, warning full-year earnings are now expected to slip beneath the low end of the previous range of $2.80-$3.20 per share as the company forecast in July.

PotashCorp’s lowered expectations stem mainly from “lower-than-forecasted potash sales volumes due to delays in new contracts with buyers in China and India.”

The company added Wednesday it expects its earnings for third-quarter 2012 to be at the low end of the 70- to 90-cent-per-share guidance range it previously forecast for Q3.

Related story:
Potash stocks seen easing, but still above norm, Oct. 15, 2012

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