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Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland tours Mosaic potash mine, discusses BC port strike impacts to production

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Mosaic’s potash production in Saskatchewan is in jeopardy if British Columbia’s port worker strike continues to hold up exports along the West Coast.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland toured Mosaic’s site at Belle Plaine on Tuesday and discussed how the strike is impacting the company.

“We are very aware of the challenge it is posing to Canadian businesses, to Canadian workers and to the Canadian economy,” Freeland said.

“My patience is wearing pretty thin with self-imposed supply chain challenges.”

Mosaic ships about 60 per cent of its potash exports through the West Coast.

However, the company has not been able to move most of its potash as a result of approximately 7,500 port workers walking off the job on July 1.

“Our storage facilities here contain about 30 days straight of production,” said Marnel Jones, Director of Government and Public Affairs for Mosaic’s Canadian operations.

“If storage areas can’t hold any more potash, then we have to stop production.”

Nutrien announced its curtailing production at its Cory potash mine near Saskatoon on Tuesday as a result of export troubles.

Mosaic might have to follow suit, according to Jones.

“Everyday this strike continues it brings us closer to potential production impacts, so we’re watching it very closely,” she said.

Mosaic has two options for western ports. The Portland Port is out of commission due to an operational failure and Vancouver’s Neptune Port is impacted by the strike.

However, Jones said Mosaic continues to move some product to the United States for industrial uses.

Jones believes any further delays in potash exports could affect farmers.

“They’re going to have to make two choices. They’re either going to not apply fertilizer because it’s not going to be there in time, or they’re going to try and get product from another producer,” Jones said.

On Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe tweeted his request for the federal government to step in and protect industries affected by the work stoppage.

When asked if the feds would intervene, Freeland told reporters the best way forward is for both parties to reach a deal on their own at the bargaining table.

However, Canada’s Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan invoked his statutory powers late Tuesday giving the federal mediator a deadline to propose a settlement.

The mediator has 24 hours to draft the terms of a recommended settlement.

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