Russia to auction world’s largest untapped potash sites in April

Russia to auction world’s largest untapped potash sites in April

Moscow: Russia will auction licences to mine three sections of the Verknekamskoe potash deposit for at least 2.7 billion rubles, or $109 million (Rs430.5 crore), in April, an area with 40% of the world’s untapped potash reserves.

Russia will sell the rights on 29 April, Andrey Belokon, head of the Federal Subsoil Agency’s branch in the Perm region, said in a telephone interview. Bids close on 5 February, he said. “We are offering 40% of the world’s proven and untapped potash deposits for sale," Belokon said, adding that he expects interest from Russian and international fertilizer producers. OAO Uralkali and OAO Silvinit, which mine potash elsewhere in the region, are the likeliest bidders, he said, while OAO Acron and EuroChem may also take part.

The price of potassium-based chemicals, used to increase crop productivity, has more than doubled this year due to expanding demand in China, India and Brazil, and because of a boom in biofuels. Supply trails demand, with India and China facing a combined shortfall of 1 million tonnes (mt).

The state set a starting price of 1.4 billion rubles for Polovodovskoye, part of the Novo-Solikamskoye and Ostalnaya sites, which contains at least 3 billion tonnes of potash ore. The Palashersky and Balakhontsevskoye sites in Verknekamskoe have proven reserves of 360mt of potash ore and 76mt of carnallite, which is used to make titanium. Bidding starts at 670 million rubles.

The Talitsky area holds about 700mt of ore and will be sold at a starting price of 620 million rubles, Belokon said.