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Several potash companies operate in the province including Agrium, IMC and the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. The largest is the Potash Corporation. Since its privatization in 1989, it has become the world's largest fertilizer enterprise, with net sales exceeding $US 2.3 billion in 1997. The corporation operates six mines in Saskatchewan plus one in New Brunswick and another in Utah. The majority of production (>90%) is exported.

Environmental Impacts of Potash Mining

The publication Environmental Aspects of Phosphate and Potash Mining, produced by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Fertilizer Association (IFA), is one of the first books to emphasize environmental aspects of the mining of phosphate rock and potash for fertilizer. It reviews current environmental practice in the industry and discusses various environmental management tools. It is aimed mainly at the fertilizer industries.

According to the UNEP / IFA document, the activities of the potash mining industry potentially result in a wide variety of adverse environmental effects. Typically, these effects are quite localized, and in most cases confined to the mine site. At a specific site, the type and extent of environmental effects may depend on factors such as the characteristics of the ore and overburden, the surface land profile (wetlands, plains, hills); the local climate; and the surrounding ecosystem.

Of greater importance may be the mining methods and equipment used, the beneficiation (refining) and concentration processes; the waste disposal methods; the scale of the operation; and proximity to existing population centers and infrastructure.

Major potential environmental effects that may occur during potash mining activities: