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Potash Corp. Miners Safe After Underground Fire Is Extinguished

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer producer, said a fire that trapped 20 workers in the Rocanville mine has been extinguished.

Once the area is secured, the mine will be ventilated and the company will begin moving the workers to the surface, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company said in a statement today. The fire started just before 2 a.m. local time at a wooden cable reel in the mine, Bill Cooper, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview. While the fire burned, miners stayed in airtight refuge stations underground.

Operations at the mine, located about 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Regina, Saskatchewan, were halted during the fire, Cooper said. The mine is expected to resume operations in 24 hours, or once the air quality is safe for workers to return, he said.

Rocanville, the company’s second-largest mine, produced 2.4 million metric tons of potash in 2011, or 26 percent of annual production, according to Potash Corp.’s annual report.

Potash, a form of potassium, is used by farmers to help strengthen plant root systems and make crops more resistant to drought.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sonja Elmquist in New York at selmquist1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net

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