A record amount of potash moved through the Port of Thunder Bay last summer

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A record amount of potash flowed through the Port of Thunder Bay last summer

Potash flowed in record quantities last summer at the Port of Thunder Bay.

The Port of Thunder Bay saw over one million tonnes of potash transit in the summer of 2022, a 30-year record.

This historic volume is a consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been going on for months.

During the same period in 2021, approximately 413,000 tonnes of potash passed through the port.

The big difference between the two years was the disruptions to the global supply chain, caused by the invasion and the subsequent sanctions imposed on Russian companies.

Analysts expect Canadian potash demand to remain high for some time if the dispute drags on.

Canada, Russia and Belarus are the top three producers of potash in the world, says Chris Heikkinen, director of business development and communications for the Port of Thunder Bay.

Countries do not do not rush to buy Russian and Belarusian potash at this time, because there are sanctions on this product. Instead, demand for Canadian potash has skyrocketed, he says.

Demand for Canadian potash is increasing around the world, and the Port of Thunder Bay essentially serves as a hub for moving this commodity to market, primarily in Europe and a little in South America as well.

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Potash is used in the agricultural industry as a fertilizer. Saskatchewan is home to the world's best-known potash deposit.

Thunder Bay is the only port in the St. Lawrence Seaway that can export potash, says Heikkinen .

In the city, the port has two facilities that are equipped to handle this product.

Although some ports in the city are equipped to handle this product. Western Canada can also export potash, Thunder Bay does not experience the congestion experienced by these ports.

We have that capacity available, and that's when we see the value of our port,” said Mr. Heikkinen.

The Canadian market for potash and fertilizers saw strong growth this year due to the supply chain problem, caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine.

In May, Nutrien Ltd. of Saskatoon, the world's largest fertilizer producer, reported profits of US$1.4 billion for the first quarter of 2022.

But we don't know exactly how long it will last.

According to a recent Scotiabank report, potash prices are falling globally as the price decline of the past few months has not was not enough to stimulate demand.

The availability of potash continued to improve during this same period.

With record summer behind him, Heikkinen isn't sure if the Port of Thunder Bay will see the same record shipments next year, but he expects the higher-than-normal level hold for a while, until the market stabilizes.

Given the context we find ourselves in, you are likely to continue to see higher demand for Canadian potash for some time to come, he said.

I would venture to say that you may not see such a high volume of potash flowing through Thunder Bay next year, as the bottlenecks in some other ports begin to subside. But I would say it's definitely likely that you're seeing elevated levels here compared to what's been considered normal for some time, he adds.

With information from CBC's Kris Ketonen

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