CIM Bulletin, Vol. 96, No. 1070, 2003
Potassium is one of the three basic plant nutrients along with nitrogen and phosphorus. There is no substitute for potassium compounds in agriculture; they are essential to maintain and expand food production.
Potash is extracted from buried ancient evaporites by underground or solution mining. This accounts for most of the potassium produced. Another important source is brine from land-locked water bodies, such as the Dead Sea, Salar de Atacama or Great Salt Lake. About 95% of potash produced worldwide is used in agriculture. The rest is found in several other industrial uses, including glass manufacturing, soaps, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Currently, three producers — IMC, PCS and Agrium — operate eight conventional and two solution mines in Saskatchewan, five of which run froth flotation circuits, two run heavy media-flotation, two run forced crystallization and one runs natural crystallization.