Nutrien permanently closes New Brunswick potash facility, takes US$1.8B writedown

Nutrien Inc. says it has permanently closed its New Brunswick potash facility after putting the operation on care and maintenance in early 2016.

The company says it will take a US$1.8-billion impairment charge in the third quarter due to the closure.

It says the decision to close the facility reflects the company's ability to increase potash production at a significantly lower cost than resuming operations in New Brunswick.

Nutrien, then known as the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan before a merger, shut down its Picadilly mine near Sussex, N.B., at a loss of about 430 jobs close to three years ago to focus on its lower-cost operations in Saskatchewan.

The news was a shock at the time for the town of 4,300 after Potash Corp. had spent around $2 billion and six years building the facility.

The company said at the time that the closure would save it upwards of US$50 million a year amid a weak market for the fertilizer.