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Resource wars: the global crisis behind BHP Billiton’s bid for Potash Corp

August 23, 2010

From The Guardian 

BHP Billiton’s £28bn hostile bid for Canada’s Potash Corporation sets the scene for one of mining’s biggest takeover battles. But this is more than a clash between multinationals intent on self-aggrandisement.

Certainly, the usual arguments are wheeled out by the predator about diversification, synergies and the prospect of fatter profits, while the target company complains about the offer price being pitched too low.

But behind the rhetoric is a bidding war that lays bare the global struggle for resources on a planet struggling with water and food shortages, overpopulation and pollution. And it highlights a question that overshadows the 21st century: how to provide enough food for a global population that is set to rise from 6.8 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations.

Potash Corporation, based in Saskatchewan, is the biggest producer of potash, a key component of fertilisers used to maximise the supply of healthy crops. The company also makes nitrogen and phosphate, two other primary constituents of fertiliser products.

With demand for grain rising and less farmland available per person, “the need for fertiliser – especially potash – has never been greater,” says the Potash Corp website.

From The Guardian

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