With the world’s population growing from 2.5 billion people in
1950 to 6.8 billion today, it won’t be long before growing
countries increase their demand for Canadian potash. By the
middle of this decade the Port of Saint John’s annual potash
shipments are expected to jump from one million tonnes per
year to roughly 2.5mt (million tonnes) per year. The Port of
Saint John on Canada’s east coast is a world-class deep water
port on the Bay of Fundy — about an hour’s drive from potashrich
Sussex, New Brunswick.
“Potash has provided a strong export cargo base for the Port
of Saint John for the past 27 years. The dedicated facilities at the
Port of Saint John and the proximity to the mines provide a
strategic gateway to global markets for PotashCorp. The port’s
facilities are well situated to handle the projected growth which
will result from the opening of the new Piccadilly mine within
the next five years,” explains Captain Al Soppitt, president and
CEO of the Saint John Port Authority. Construction of a new
$1.7 billion PotashCorp mine known as the Picadilly Potash
Project, near Sussex, is scheduled for completion by the end of
2010. The mine will reach its full production by the end of 2015.
“When the new mine opens and market demand returns we’ll
be ready for increased cargo handling and international shipping,”
Capt. Soppitt says confidently.
The newest deposit of potash and salt was discovered near
Sussex while drilling for natural gas in the region back in 2002.
The existing mine produces standard, fine standard and granular
grades of potash that is used in fertilizer and agricultural
products. The high-quality Picadilly deposit contains potash ore
grades similar to those found in the existing New Brunswick
mine and PotashCorp’s deposits in Saskatchewan in Western
The Picadilly mine shaft construction continued to a depth of
about 900 metres in January of this year. A prominent feature
on the facility is the salt storage shed erected at the south end
of the site. It was constructed using glulam beams (glue
laminated timber) recycled from the product storage shed at
PotashCorp’s Cassidy Lake Division.
Captain Soppitt who has been at the helm of the Port of
Saint John for nearly 15 years and was previously harbour
master, says despite the global recession, tonnage at the Port of
Saint John was up by 1.3mt (million metric tonnes) in 2009, or
5%. This increase was fuelled by gains in liquid bulk and forest
products, bringing total cargo to 26.9mt.
He acknowledges that potash tonnage in 2009 was 188, 613
tonnes, down more than 400,000 compared with last year’s
628,456 tonnes. Salt was fairly consistent with 142,141 tonnes
in 2009 and 146,543 in 2008. Total dry bulk shipments at the
Port of Saint John were 402,057 compared with 872,052 in
“We’re continuing to work our way through the recession,”
affirms Captain Soppitt. “Saint John is not alone with ports
around the world challenged by capturing business in the
competitive dry bulk segment of the international shipping
The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s
largest fertilizer enterprise by capacity, had to implement several
shutdowns at the existing Sussex mine last year due to soft
demand. However, these slowdowns are only temporary.
The Sussex mine has been in operation since July 1983 when
similar economic conditions challenged market demand. Later, a
brine flow into the mine meant drastic changes and ongoing
maintenance. “Water inflow continues to be an operational
challenge, but we have stabilized the inflow rate by drilling and
grouting into fractures from above and below ground,” assures
Mark Fraccia, general manager for PotashCorp New Brunswick.
In recent decades, PotashCorp typically contributed over 50%
of the revenue for the Port of Saint John. When production is in
full swing, PotashCorp has 340 employees in New Brunswick. In
addition, the Picadilly construction has been generating the
equivalent of 2,500 person-years of employment during
construction and created 140 new full-time positions.
Potassium fertilizers play a vital role in improving the quality and
yields of crops and thus contribute to the welfare of farming
communities. Accordingly, PotashCorp donated $500,000 to
assist relief efforts in Haiti following the devastating earthquake
that struck the Caribbean country on January 12. “We are
acutely aware of the need to provide aid in times of crisis and to
prepare for the rebuilding that follows, said PotashCorp
president and CEO Bill Doyle. “Our hope is to help the people
of Haiti through the process of recovery.”
”Our goal is to be the lowest-cost supplier on a delivered
basis to all key world markets,” continues Doyle. “By expanding
our existing operations in New Brunswick, we are capitalizing on
the logistical advantages there, further strengthening our
leadership position in potash for the benefit of our customers,
investors and other stakeholders over the long term.”
Sustainable food production dictates that the world’s farmers
must replenish the nutrients in their soils to keep pace with
growing food demand. Consequently, tonnage will eventually
double when the Picadilly mine begins sending potash by train to
the Port’s Barrack Point Potash Terminal. In fact, PotashCorp
New Brunswick has already replaced its ageing fleet of leased
railcars with its own fleet of newly refurbished cars. The
company now has approximately 135 railcars available for hauling
potash and salt to the Port of Saint John.

At the Port of Saint John, the Barrack Point Terminal loads
potash from its two large storage sheds at 2,000 tonnes per
hour aboard oceangoing bulk carriers. Due to the curvature of
the earth, the steaming time is about the same as shipping from
New York to Brazil, a market which is rapidly expanding its
agricultural base. The Barrack Point Potash Terminal maintains a
high standard of housekeeping and the facilities meet all
requirements of the Department of Environment’s Certificate of
Approval. Port of Saint John facilities are well served by rail and
the dry bulk terminals have direct and unimpeded access to
major highways.
Operated by Furncan Marine, a subsidiary of Empire
Stevedoring Maritime Co., about 785,000 tonnes are typically
exported annually from the port’s Barrack Point. Currently
125,000 tonnes are salt are being shipped from Saint John to
Cargill in Quebec for use on roadways. Empire Stevedoring
Maritime Co., the parent company of Furncan Marine Ltd., is
proud of its long-term relationship with PotashCorp.