PCS Phosphate cutting production at Aurora

Published 9:25 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

By Staff
Some workers shiftedto maintenance dutiesin move to avoid layoffs
Staff Writer
PCS Phosphate’s Aurora complex will be cutting back production of several products beginning this month.
The announcement came from PCS Phosphate’s parent company, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.
The company’s mine will continue operating at full capacity while some workers in processing plants will be shifted from production to plant maintenance from about the middle of this month to the end of February. Employees have been notified of the plan, said spokesman Tom Pasztor.
He said the cutback came in response to weakened demand for the products, monoamonium phosphate (known as MAP), sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid and purified phosphoric acid.
Cutbacks also are taking place at the company’s other phosphate facilities, Pasztor said.
The move has nothing to do with the company’s struggle to acquire the permits it needs for expanding its Aurora mining operations, he said.
Pasztor said the company has taken similar measures globally. The company idled hundreds of contractors this summer as it waited to see what sort of permits it will receive. Those contractors work clearing land ahead of the mining operation.
The company expects resolution of its 401 water-quality certification from the state within days, said Ross Smith, the Aurora complex’s manager for environmental affairs.
The 401 certification is the last major obstacle between the company and the largest federal permit, which is issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
There have been layoffs at potash mines in Canada, and maintenance has been moved up at nitrogen plants in Trinidad as well.
Pasztor said the company is expected to have a better market later in the year.
For one thing, demand from farmers for fertilizer should come with the spring planting season, he said.