Exclusive-Argentine potash mine to open tender for investment bank as it seeks restart By Reuters

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© Reuters.

By Eliana Raszewski and Walter Bianchi

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentine potash mine PRC will open a tender on Monday for investment banks to help find a partner to restart operations, a top company official said, a decade after Brazil’s Vale shelved the project when prices crashed for the crop nutrient and the firm clashed with the country’s government over tax breaks.

The state-controlled entity PRC, previously Potasio Río Colorado, is looking to restart the project with new outside investment that would likely be around $1-1.2 billion, the company’s general manager Emilio Guiñazú told Reuters.

The most likely outcome would be to produce 1 million to 1.5 million tonnes of potash per year. The government of Canada, the No. 1 producer of potash at about 21 million tonnes annually, says the global market is 66 million tonnes per year.

The investment could rise to as high as $5 billion, however, Guiñazú said, depending on the scope of the project at one of the world’s largest potassium deposits in western Mendoza province. Prices of potash have climbed over the last year on high food prices.

Guiñazú said that the mine hoped to have selected an investment bank by the end of October to lead the process to identity a partner for the project. He hoped to have the new partner on board within around 18 months.

In a statement from the province, which took control of the mine earlier this year after an agreement with Brazilian miner Vale, it said it had been looking at identifying potential partners interested in “investing, associating or purchasing” the project and had spoken with a number of unnamed companies.

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