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POTASH

  • Potash
  • Mines Producing Potash

Potassium is widely spread around most of the world in a natural state. It is the seventh most common element that makes up the earth's crust. Many clays are rich in potassium, some contain as much as 17 percent potash. Sea water also contains potassium, as much as 390mg a litre, and up to 4 parts per million can occur in natural rain.


However, most commercial requirements for potash is derived from potash bearing rocks that are found in many parts of the world. These rocks having been formed millions of years ago as a result of ancient seas drying up. Potash used by fertiliser manufacturers is extracted from these deposits, most often sylvinite, that only needs to have the salt and other unnecessary minerals taken from it to become suitable for spreading over farm lands in the form of potash.


Potassium is vital to the existence of life be it in the form of plants or animals, including humans, and when taken in larger quantities than is naturally required it is readily excreted. In animals this is brought about via kidney function and urine and in plants via sinescent tissue contained in falling leaves, stubble left after cropping and through the plant's root system. It is therefore naturally recycled in large amounts throughout the world on a constant basis. It is an essential nutrient requirement for plants that usually contain more potassium than any other kind of nutrient including that of nitrogen.


Potash ensures nutritious and healthy plant growth and is therefore in high demand by farmers trying to ensure a healthy crop.


Uses of Potash
Potash, particularly in the form of potassium carbonate has been used by man since the beginning of time in one way or another, these uses include the following:

- Bleaching textiles

- Manufacturing of glass

- Making soap (since AD 500)

- As a fertiliser

Potash has been principally obtained over the years by the practice of leaching the ash left by sea and land plants and it was mined during the 14th century in Ethiopia. In 1767 wood ash was exported from Canada with Potash and lime (pearl ash) exports reaching 43,958 barrels by 1865. The industry involved 519 different asheries in 1871. This means of supply declined during the latter part of the 19th century when potash was produced from mineral salts in Germany.


Potash is important to use as a fertiliser because of its ability to retain water, its yield improvement capability, its nutrient value, product taste improvement, richer colour and texture results, as well as improving the plants resistance to disease. It has wide application for all types of food plants that include; palm oil, soybeans, corn, sugar, wheat and other cereals crops, rice, vegetables and fruit as well as cotton.


Australia produces little potash in its own right and is therefore a net potash importer, obtaining its needs from Canada, Taiwan and Germany. This lack of having a domestic potash production source of any size means that Australia is exposed to world market prices to satisfy its needs.

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