New player on potash market
On June 17th, 2016, Belarusbank and China Development Bank signed a loan agreement for USD 1.4 billion to finance the construction of Slavkali mine with capacity of 2 million tons based on Nijinsky potash deposit. The project’s total cost is estimated at USD 1.7 billion and Belarusbank has to raise the remaining funds. The project would increase imports of equipment and labour from China, as the general contractor is a Chinese company, as well, it will create additional jobs in construction in the Minsk region. After the plant is completed, up to 1500 new jobs may be created. A new player will emerge on the potash market, which will lead to some changes in shares among the largest market players. Slavkaly will not compete with Belaruskali as both companies are likely to coordinate their activities on the international market.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.