Potash in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Potash in Canada Facts

Did you know that Canada is the largest producer and exporter of potash in the world?! Canada also is home to the largest global potash reserves, with over 1 billion tonnes - or about 1/5th of the world’s supply. Potash is just one of the natural resources that Canada has in abundance; as Canadians we are blessed to have access to such a vast wealth of natural resources!

Potash is a common name for an alkaline potassium compound made up of a group of minerals and chemicals containing potassium (K on the periodic table). Potash is typically produced to make potassium chloride (KCl), about 95 per cent of which is used in fertilizers that help plants grow by improving overall health, root strength, disease resistance, water retention, and yield rates as an end result.

Where is Potash Found in Canada?

Saskatchewan Potash Deposits - Mines and Mining Methods Map

Saskatchewan Potash Deposits - Carrie Cockburn & John Sipinski

Canada’s underground potash deposits formed some 400 million years ago as an ancient inland sea evaporated, leaving behind layers of common salts that trapping precious minerals in the sea floor. These deposits are part of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin which is where you’ll find the oil sands and several other vast reserves of different natural resources in Canada.

Saskatchewan is home to the vast majority of potash in Canada. New Brunswick has one potash mine, but it is much smaller in scale than those in the west. Saskatchewan’s deposits are found near Alberta to the west of Saskatoon and span to the southeast corner of the province in three major layers called the Esterhazy, Belle Plaine and Patience Lake Member. Each of these layers are known for their high-grade potash and are separated by layers of salt.

Saskatchewan’s northern deposits are located about 1,000 metres below surface and are extracted using conventional mining techniques. To the south, deposits are anywhere from 1,500 to 2,400 metres deep and are mined using solution techniques. These northern and southern deposits are separated by a “hybrid” deposit of potash which is currently uneconomical to produce using contemporary mining techniques. New technologies are required to allow the extraction and production of this “hybrid” layer.

History of Potash in Canada

1767 - As early as the 1760s, exports of potash made from wood ashes began from Canada.

1865 – A century later, in the mid-1860s, exports of potash reached nearly 44,000 barrels

1871 – By 1871, approximately 519 asheries were in operation across the country

1943 – During the 1940s, exploratory drilling for crude oil led to the discovery of potash in Saskatchewan

1951 – By the early 1950s, active exploration for the mineral commenced

1958 – the Potash Company of America became the first potash producer in Canada with a contract to develop underground reserves in the Patience Lake region of Saskatchewan

1964 – The world’s first solution mine is opened near Regina by Kalium Chemicals Ltd, with a depth of nearly 1,600 metres

1960-1985 – Potash mine development in Canada occurs mostly in Saskatchewan

1980s – New Brunswick sees a handful of potash mines begin operations

1990s – Several integral expansions during the 1970s and 80s makes Canada a global leader in potash production

Today, Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of potash and exports more than 95 per cent of production to over 50 countries. The United States, Brazil, Indonesia, India and China are Canada’s top buyers.

Mosaic K1 Potash Mine in SaskatchewanMosaic K1 Potash Mine in Saskatchewan

What are the Uses of Potash?

Most (95 per cent) of potash is used for fertilizer. The rest is used in various products including, but not limited to:

  • Animal feed
  • Human food products
  • Soaps
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Detergents
  • Water softeners
  • Deicer (snow and ice melters)
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Fireworks
  • Matches
  • Aluminum recycling

Fertilizer has been called one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, and without it about half of the world's current population would not be alive!

Join Us Today!

Canada Action is all about advocating for our natural resource sectors and the millions of Canadians that rely on these industries to provide for themselves and their families. We initiate and engage in fact-based, balanced, positive, and non-partisan discussions with the goal of educating Canadians on the societal and economic importance of our natural resource industries.

Canada’s natural resource companies are world-class when it comes to upholding transparency, following regulation and protecting the environment. We should be proud of our sustainably produced natural resources!

We invite you to join us and hundreds of thousands of fellow Canadians on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to learn more about the positive influence resources have on our daily lives and how we should be a global supplier of choice for oil, natural gas, minerals, metals, forest products, agricultural products, and everything in between. We hope to see you there!

Back to Mining - Canada Action

Share this page to spread the word.

Related Posts

Mining in Ontario: 15 Interesting Facts

Mining in Ontario: 15 Interesting Facts

Did you know that Ontario is a hotbed for mining activity in Canada? The industry is active in all parts of the province in a diverse set of communities including Sudbury, Windsor, Midland, Timmins, Perth, Marathon, North Bay and Attawapiskat to name a few. The further north y...

Uranium in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Uranium in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Did you know that Canada is the second largest global producer and exporter of uranium?! Canada is also home to the 4th largest reserves with most of our production coming the McArthur River and Cigar Lake mines in Northern Saskatchewan, two of the largest and highest-grade m...

What Does the Oil Sands Look Like? You'd Be Surprised...

What Does the Oil Sands Look Like? You'd Be Surprised...

So, what does the oil sands in Canada look like? You'd be surprised, especially considering this vast oil reserve is often incorrectly referred to as the "tar sands," and the photos we usually see in media nowadays are those of open mines. But just a small percent of the oil s...