Threats to global food security are continuing to mount, with Ukrainian President Zelensky calling Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grains a “hunger catastrophe in the making”. The blockade of 22 million tonnes of food products in Europe, while not bound for North America, still adds to the growing threats of food security here in North America.
Fertilizer shortages are playing a significant role in this continent’s potential for food shortages, with the imbalance between supply and demand having been building for much longer than the recent market turmoil would suggest.
Potash, one of three major fertilizer nutrients, is so important to food security the Federal government declared it to be a critical mineral on March 29, 2021, and essential to Canada’s clean modern economy. Further, potash is one of the most impacted fertilizers from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Considering the urgent need for potash, one would think markets would be clamoring for an opportunity to invest in, and support, the development and production of this critical mineral in one of the world’s most stable jurisdictions - Saskatchewan.
The need for innovative solutions to bring new productions to market is imperative. even if they test the potash mindset that only large-scale production is worth pursuing.
Australian-owned BHP recently announced plans to complete construction at its Saskatchewan Jansen project earlier than planned and to start producing 4.35 million tonnes of potash a year by early 2027.
Yet, as Nutrien CEO Ken Seltz recently pointed out, the supply shortage didn’t develop overnight and will take time to rectify. However, there is another option available in lieu of large-scale and time-consuming production projects that can form part of the solution: modular, scalable production projects that can be brought to market within a short period of time.
Unlike traditional potash producers, modular technology represents a relatively quick way to bring incremental amounts of potash production directly to producers, and without the environmental concerns of larger producers.
Gensource’s Tugaske Project; (located near the town of Tugaske, SK), will produce no tailings that create long-term environmental and decommissioning problems and it requires no brine ponds.
Gensource’s modular systems take up less space and reduce impact on the shared utilities and infrastructure of the communities they will operate in. Due to the innovative energy system used, each Gensource module will avoid up to 24,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually, while consuming 75% less water per tonne compared to conventional solution mining projects.
Tugaske will initially produce up to 300,000 tonnes of potash per year, which may then be scaled to 3,000,000 tonnes within the potash mining leases owned by Gensource. Once in production, the project is easily, quickly and efficiently scalable. With all-in operating costs of $CDN85.08 per tonne, 2-year construction timeline and direct-to-market business model, Gensource’s potash is projected to be in the lowest quartile of the global cost curve for potash delivered to market.
Soaring prices at the grocery store are hitting everyone’s pocketbook across both Canada and the US. Concerns about money, driven by food inflation, are one of consumers’ biggest concerns. With no end in sight for inflation, it's time for all hands on deck when it comes to fertilizer production today and that includes scalable, direct-to-market production.
Without innovative solutions, food security may become more than a threat but a gnawing reality.
Gensource Potash CEO Mike Ferguson has over 25 years of potash and uranium mining experience, working on several large projects in Saskatchewan. Mike successfully led the Potash One team responsible of the development of the Legacy potash project in Southern Saskatchewan, the first greenfield potash project developed in the province in 40 years. Mike graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering.For more ag news and opinion pieces, visit www.Agri-Pulse.com.