Potash is a naturally occurring element typically rich in sodium chloride, potassium chloride other clays and salts. The word potash is derived from a 1477 middle Dutch term potaschen (Pot ash). It was the ancient process of producing potassium carbonate. The term potash was used in later years to refer to naturally available salts and the byproduct derived from such salts. Currently, the highest potash deposits are in Saskatchewan in Canada.
Top Five Top Potash Producers
Potash in Canada
Potash production in Canada began as early as 1767. By then the commodity was made from wood ash. Natural potash was discovered in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1943. Active mining began in 1951. In 1958, professional excavation was started by Potash Company of America. The company established an underground mine near Patience Lake. The reserves in Saskatchewan are the biggest in the world. The Mosaic Company is the main miner. In 2017, Canada alone produced 12 million tonnes of potash.
Potash in Russia
In 2017, Russia produced 7.2 million tonnes of potash. The reserves hold an estimated 500 million metric tonnes of ore. Potash is extracted in large scale from Synnyr mine and talitsky mine. The largest mining company is Uralkali. The company controls the entire chain from the extraction of ore to refining and marketing of Potassium Chloride and other byproducts to final consumers. Uralkali operates five mines and seven milling plants in Russia.
Potash in Belarus
Belarus produced 6.4 million tonnes of potash in 2017 making it the third largest producer in the world. The Belarusian company is mandated to perform the extraction. The company mines ore in 6 mines and processing takes place in 4 factories. Despite a recent fatal accident in one of the mines, production continued to increase. Production is set to increase further with the opening of new mines in 2021.
Potash in China
China has historically been one of the highest consumers of potash. The country consumes locally mined potash and imports from other producers like canpotex of Canada. In 2017 the production from China was 6.2 million tonnes.
Potash in Germany
As the fifth producer of potash, Germany produced 2.9 million tonnes in 2017. Mining is conducted in three districts from six mines. Germany established the first mines in the late 19th century and has gradually increased production with the discovery of new mines.
Other Potash Producing Countries
Israel is home to the sixth largest potash company in the world known as Israel Chemicals. The country is sixth in potash production having produced 2.2 million tonnes in 2017. Jordan and Chile follow with each having a production of 1.3 and 1.2 million tonnes respectively. Spain produced 0.7 million tonnes. At position ten is the United States where 0.5 million tonnes were mined in 2017. Potash in the U.S is mostly mined in Utah and New Mexico.
Uses Of Potash
Potash is used as a manufacturing fertilizer. The potash component corrects the deficiency of potassium in the soil. As a natural mineral, potash is an important nutrient that enhances water retention, disease resistance and general crop productivity. A smaller percentage of below 5% is used in the industrial manufacture of commodities like soap. Other industrial use includes aluminum recycling, metal electroplating, drilling fluid for wells, waters softening and photographic chemicals.