Slogan

C

Commodities

Potash

Introduction

Important to Saskatchewan... Important to the World...

Potash is an important mineral to Saskatchewan and the world. The mineral's name refers to several forms of potassium salt, the most important being potassium chloride or KCL. It is one of the world's three important fertilizers. Used in combination with nitrogen and phosphate, potash increases the yields of such important crops as corn, soybeans, coffee, and rice.

Potash plays a central role in helping feed the world's growing population. Approximately 95% of world potash production is used as fertilizer, the rest being used in a variety of chemical and manufactured products.

Potash was first discovered in Saskatchewan during the early 1940s while drilling for oil. Exploration during the remainder of the decade helped geologists define the magnitude and richness of Saskatchewan's deposits. Underground, the vast deposit lies diagonally across the southern plains of Saskatchewan, gently sloping southerly from a 1,000 metre depth along a north-west line through Rocanville, Esterhazy and Saskatoon to more than a 1,600 metre depth at Belle Plaine and up to 3,000 metres depth in Northeastern Montana and North Dakota. The size of the formation is impressive.

Reaching this abundant Saskatchewan resource, however, proved to be a challenge. The Blairmore, a vast underground water-bearing layer, presented great difficulties for shaft sinkers. First efforts to sink a shaft began in 1954. Costly delays were experienced during the early years in trying to overcome water associated shaft-sinking problems. It was not until 1962 that potash was being successfully mined in Saskatchewan. The province had the world's first solution mine in 1964 and by 1971 all of Saskatchewan's ten world class potash mines were in production. Today, Saskatchewan is the 2nd largest potash producer.

The important role played by potash in meeting agriculture's needs has helped make it an increasingly important mineral to Saskatchewan's economy. Revenue from the sale of potash benefits the province in many ways. It supports potash workers and their families through the payment of wages and benefits. It provides an ongoing stimulus to local businesses from the industry's purchases of goods and services. Finally, it helps to support important government social and economic programs through the payment of taxes and royalties.

Sylvite (potash) was proclaimed Saskatchewan's Mineral Emblem in 1996.

© 2014, Saskatchewan Mining Association