28 Jun 2010 19:25

Uralkali to continue selling potash via BPC

MOSCOW. June 28 (Interfax) - Uralkali will continue to export potash via Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), despite the Russian miner's recent change of ownership, Uralkali's president, Denis Morozov, said at the Russia and CIS: Going Global conference, organized by Renaissance Capital.

"It's crucial that [the changes] don't affect sales policy," Morozov said.

Uralkali's new shareholders have agreed that Dmitry Rybolovlev, the company's former majority shareholder, retains his post as chairman of BPC's board of directors, he said.

Rybolovlev recently sold a 53.2% stake in Uralkali to three investors, including Suleiman Kerimov, head of the Nafta Moskva investment company and co-owner of No. 1 Russian gold producer Polyus Gold ; Vitaly Nesis, co-owner of gold and silver miner Polymetal and head of the ICT Group; and Filaret Galchev, owner of the Eurocement Group.

Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko told reporters on June 21 that Uralkali's new owners confirmed the company's involvement BPC, via which Uralkali and the Belarusian Belaruskali Production Association supply around 30% of the world's potash, and that Rybolovlev would stay on as board chairman.

BPC was set up in 2005. Uralkali owns 50%, Belaruskali owns 45% and Belarusian Railways owns 5% of the trader.

Semashko said Uralkali's new shareholder, Suleiman Kerimov, said at a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that they "see their future as a BPC shareholder. This will benefit Uralkali and Russia, and the positions of Belaruskali and BPC can only strengthen," Semashko said.

Belaruskali produces around 15% of the world's potash fertilizer and accounts for just over 16% of world exports. BPC expects Belarusian potash exports to rise 66% this year to 4.9 million tonnes.

Belruskali chief Valery Kiriyenko told reporters in Minsk on June 28 that that company aimed to at least double potash fertilizer production this year.

Belaruskali was running above capacity in H1 2010 and produced over 4 million tonnes, he said.

It also plans to invest more than $400 million this year, the bulk of it in the new Berezovsky mine, due to go into service in 2012.

Belaruskali produced around 4.4 million tonnes of fertilizer in 2009, when capacity ran at 52%. It forecast it would produce 7.25 million tonnes in 2010.

Belarus boosted potash fertilizer exports 4.6-fold year-on-year in January-April to 1.44 million tonnes in 100% nutrient equivalent, Belstat, the national statistics agency, has told Interfax. The average price per tonne fell 43.5% to $534, thus overall exports doubled in value to $771.4 million.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a decree to incorporate Belaruskali as an open joint stock company, Lukashenko's press office told Interfax on June 28.