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Nutrien to pause potash ramp up, ammonia project on falling prices

(Reuters) - Nutrien on Wednesday decided to indefinitely pause its ramp-up plans for potash production and halt work on its clean ammonia project at Geismar, Louisiana, as the world's biggest fertilizer producer grapples with falling prices.

Its U.S.-listed shares fell 2.6% in extended trading as the company cited market conditions for stopping efforts to bolster potash output to 18 million tons.

Potash prices have eased after the resumption of shipments from major supplier Belarus, whose exports were largely frozen last year due to western sanctions after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The suspension of work at its 1.2 million ton clean ammonia plant was due to elevated costs and uncertainty on the timing of emerging uses for clean ammonia, it said.

Fertilizer companies have been building ammonia plants along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to take advantage of Inflation Reduction Act subsidies and the existing export infrastructure.

Nutrien also lowered its 2023 adjusted earnings forecast to the range of $3.85 to $5.60 from a prior view of $5.50 per share and $7.50 per share.

It had said in July that it would cut production at its Cory Potash mine and expected its full-year profit to take hit from lower exports due to a strike by Canadian dock workers.

"We expect Canadian potash exports will be constrained by logistical challenges primarily due to the strike at the Port of Vancouver," the company said.

The top potash producer said it expects to cut capital expenditure by about $200 million in 2023.

Nutrien reported adjusted earnings of $2.53 per share for the three months ended June 30, missing expectations of $2.77, according to Refinitiv data.

Peer CF Industries had posted a 54.8% slide in second-quarter due to weak selling prices.

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