Musing this week by Premier Brad Wall that his government should rejig the way it collects royalties from potash producers is somewhat of a surprise, given the stance of his Saskatchewan Party during the election campaign.
When the NDP raised a review of potash royalties as an election issue, saying Saskatchewan people who own the resource aren't getting a fair share from it, Mr. Wall's party insisted that such a review would hurt the province's economy by driving away investment and creating uncertainty in the resource sector.
Yet, there was the premier on Wednesday telling reporters that the potash royalty regime warrants another look, even though changes might be some years away and done by working closely with the industry.
"Clearly we have a potash royalty structure that's based on cost more than it is on volume, on the price more than it is volume, and that's going to change," said the premier.
"We're going to have to readjust so stakeholders have the stability they need and the taxpayers can be kept whole. Because if we're producing more potash and selling more potash, but making less money, that doesn't make much sense."
Given the blunt assessments provided last year by respected economists such as Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary and Sylvain Charlebois at the University Guelph, the surprise isn't that the premier and the government have reached this conclusion. It's that Mr. Wall quietly slipped in the decision in the context of a discussion involving speculation that BHP Billiton might postpone its proposed Jansen potash mine and the decision by Vale to put off construction on its solution mine near Regina. . .View Full Article