PotashCorp of Saskatchewan (PCS) said that its potash portfolio optimization and cost reduction strategy, which includes the ramp-up of its low-cost Rocanville mine, contributed to its strong first-quarter results. “Potash market fundamentals continued to improve in the first quarter,” Jochen Tilk, president and CEO, said. “We expect improved consumption trends and nutrient affordability in key markets to support potash demand and our results through the remainder of 2017.”

PCS reported first-quarter sales volumes of 2.2 million metric tons (mt), which were well above the 1.8 million mt sold in the same period last year. While North American volumes were 10% higher, offshore shipments increased by 31% due to stronger demand in all key markets. The majority of Canpotex’s volumes for the quarter were sold to Asian markets outside of China and India (36%) and Latin America (24%). China and India accounted for 20% and 11%, respectively.

PCS said lower inventories led to consistent buyer-engagement in potash during the first quarter. Deliveries increased to most major markets and contributed to modest increases in global spot prices from fourth-quarter 2016 levels.

Tilk said the company is making good progress on its merger of equals with Agrium. “We continue to work through the regulatory process in key jurisdictions and remain confident the transaction will close mid-2017.”

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