CHICAGO (CN) – The world’s leading potash suppliers conspired to fix U.S. prices on the fertilizer, Gage’s Fertilizer & Grain claims in a federal antitrust class action. It claims they did this after potash prices tanked in the 1990s because “potash producers, particularly those located in the former Soviet Union, increased the supply of potash in world markets”.
A similar antitrust class action was filed in Minneapolis Federal Court by Minn-Chem Inc.
Gage’s claim in Chicago states, “As part of, and in furtherance of, this conspiracy, defendants exchanged sensitive, non-public information about prices, capacity, sales volumes, and demand; allocated market shares, customers, and volumes to be sold; and coordinated on output, including the limitation of production.”
During the class period, July 1, 2003 until today, “defendants sold millions of tons of potash in the United States.”
Potash is, or are, mineral and chemical salts that contain potassium, a necessary nutrient for plants. “There is no cost-effective substitute for potash,” the complaint states.
“Potash is mined from naturally occurring ore deposits that were formed when seas and oceans evaporated, many of which are now covered with several thousand feet of earth. …
“Belarus, Canada, Germany, Israel, Jordan and Russia have about 90% of the global potash supply within their borders,” the complaint states. “Over half of the world’s global capacity is located in just two regions – Canada and the former Soviet Union, specifically Russia and Belarus.”
Here are the defendants: Agrium Inc., Agrium US Inc., Mosaic Co., Mosaic Crop Nutrition LLC, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., PCS Sales (USA) Inc., JSC Uralkali, RUE PA Belaruskali, RU PA Belarussian Potash Co., BPC Chicago LLC, JSC Silvinit, and JSC International Potash Co.
Plaintiffs are represented by Steven Hart with Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney.