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3 Reasons for the Fertilizer and Food Shortage

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3 Reasons for the Fertilizer and Food Shortage

Bad weather, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and a shortage of fertilizer have led to fears of a global food crisis.

This infographic will help you understand the problem by highlighting three key factors behind the mounting food crisis.

#1: The Fertilizer Shortage

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the war has disrupted shipments of fertilizer, an essential source of nutrients for crops.

Russia is the world’s top exporter of nitrogen fertilizer and ranks second in phosphorus and potassium fertilizer exports. Belarus, a Russian ally also contending with Western sanctions, is another major fertilizer producer. In addition, both countries collectively account for over 40% of global exports of the crop nutrient potash.

Here are the top 20 fertilizer exporters globally:

RankCountryExports Value (Billions in USD)
#1🇷🇺 Russia$12.5
#2🇨🇳 China $10.9
#3🇨🇦 Canada$6.6
#4🇲🇦 Morocco$5.7
#5🇺🇸 United States$4.1
#6🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia $3.6
#7🇳🇱 Netherlands$2.9
#8🇧🇪 Belgium$2.6
#9🇴🇲 Oman$2.6
#10🇶🇦 Qatar$2.2
#11🇩🇪 Germany$1.5
#12🇮🇱I srael$1.5
#13🇪🇬 Egypt$1.5
#14🇱🇹 Lithuania$1.4
#15🇩🇿 Algeria$1.4
#16🇪🇸 Spain$1.3
#17🇯🇴 Jordan$1.3
#18🇵🇱 Poland$1.2
#19🇲🇾 Malaysia$1.0
#20🇳🇬 Nigeria$1.0

The main destination of fertilizer exports from Russia are large economies like India, Brazil, China, and the United States.

However, many developing countries—including Mongolia, Honduras, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, and Guatemala—rely on Russia for at least one-fifth of their fertilizer imports.

Furthermore, the war intensified trends that were already disrupting supply, such as increased hoarding by major producing nations like China and sharp jumps in the price of natural gas, a key feedstock for fertilizer production.

#2: Global Grain Exports

The blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russia’s Black Sea fleet, along with Western sanctions against Russia, has worsened global supply chain bottlenecks, causing inflation in food and energy prices around the world.

This is largely because Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly one-third of the global wheat supply. Wheat is one of the most-used crops in the world annually, used to make a variety of food products like bread and pasta. Additionally, Ukraine is also a major exporter of corn, barley, sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil.

ProducerGrain Exports in Million Tons (MT)
🇺🇸 United States93MT
🇷🇺 Russia & 🇺🇦 Ukraine87MT
🇦🇷 Argentina 56MT
🇪🇺 EU50MT
🇧🇷 Brazil44MT
Other87MT

As a result of the blockade, Ukraine’s exports of cereals and oilseed dropped from six million tonnes to two million tonnes per month. After two months of negotiations, the two countries signed a deal to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports for grain exports, raising hopes that the international food crisis can be eased.

#3: Recent Food Shortages

Besides the war in Ukraine, factors including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change resulted in nearly one billion people going hungry last year, according to United Nations.

France’s wine industry saw its smallest harvest since 1957 in 2021, with an estimated loss of $2 billion in sales due to increasingly higher temperatures and extreme weather conditions.

Heat, drought, and floods also decimated crops in Latin America, North America, and India in recent months. Between April 2020 and December 2021, coffee prices increased 70% after droughts and frost destroyed crops in Brazil.

In the face of multiple crises, the World Bank recently announced financial support of up to $30 billion to existing and new projects in areas such as agriculture, nutrition, social protection, water, and irrigation.

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Visualizing Mining’s Footprint in British Columbia

Mining represents 7% of British Columbia’s GDP despite only accounting for 0.04% of the land use.

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Mining Footprint in British Columbia

Visualizing Mining’s Footprint in British Columbia

British Columbia is considered a global leader in the development of socially and environmentally responsible resources.

An estimated 54% of the province’s total land is protected, making it one of the world’s greenest mining hubs.

This graphic by the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA) details mining’s footprint in the province.

A Tier 1 Jurisdiction for Mining

British Columbia covers almost 95 million hectares (234 million acres), more than any European country except Russia, and more than any U.S. state except Alaska.

As the largest mining province in Canada, BC registered $18 billion in revenue from the industry in 2022.

British Columbia stands as Canada’s sole producer of molybdenum, which finds applications in metallurgy and chemistry. Additionally, B.C. is the country’s leader producer of copper and steelmaking coal, besides gold and silver.

B.C. mined material breakdown

At the heart of British Columbia’s mining industry lies the Golden Triangle, one of the hottest mineral exploration districts in the world.

More than 150 mines have operated in the area since prospectors first arrived at the end of the 19th century. The region alone is endowed with minerals worth more than $800 billion.

How Green is B.C. Mining

Mining represents 7% of the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), despite only accounting for 0.04% of the land use. In comparison, farmland demands 3% of the land, bringing $2.1 billion (0.8%) per year.

Land Use in B.C.Revenue (2022, CAD $)
Mining 0.04%$18.0 billion
Oil & Gas 0.4%$9.5 billion
Infrastructure1%$25.0 billion
Farmland3%$2.1 billion
Forest62%$13.3 billion

Mining operations are also supported by a stable, transparent, and effective policy environment. The province ranked as the world’s least risky for mining in 2017 and 2018.

In addition, mineral exploration has received ample support from local Indigenous communities. Today, mining accounts for over two-thirds of all indigenous people employed in the extractives sector.

According to the International Energy Agency, up to six times more minerals and metals will be needed by 2040 to accelerate the energy transition.

In this scenario, British Columbia is well positioned to support the transition to a low-carbon future and make a significant contribution to climate action.

The BCRMA is a strategic partnership between indigenous groups, industry, and government representatives that aims to promote B.C.’s mining opportunities internationally.

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Mapped: The 10 Largest Undeveloped Silver Deposits in the World

Global silver demand is poised to soar in the next decade, driven by emerging technologies like EVs and solar power.

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Ranked: The Largest Undeveloped Silver Deposits in the World

Global silver demand is poised to soar in the next decade, driven by emerging technologies like electric vehicles and solar power.

Silver demand from solar alone has grown from less than 50 million ounces (Moz) a decade ago to an expected 160 Moz in 2023.

So, where will the necessary supply come from to meet this surge? This graphic from Discovery Silver shows the largest undeveloped silver deposits in the world.

Silver in Green Technology

Silver is a vital part of solar cells. The metal is converted into paste and coated onto silicon wafers to make solar arrays.

When sunlight hits the silicon, silver helps to transport the generated electricity for immediate use or store it in batteries. A typical solar panel can contain as much as 20 grams of silver.

Silver’s conductivity and corrosion resistance are vital in electronics, especially electric vehicles where nearly all electrical connections rely on the metal. Over 50 million ounces of silver are used every year to enhance conductivity in powered seats, windows, and other vehicle electronics.

In 2022, 27% of all silver consumption in the U.S. was attributed to electrical and electronics, while 10% was linked to solar technology.

Global Silver Demand Rising

With the increasing demand for new technologies combined with physical investment (bars) demand, the silver market saw a 237.7 Moz deficit in 2022, an all-time record.

2023 silver industrial demand is forecasted to rise by 4% to a new record high.

However, according to the Silver Institute, mined output is expected to decline over the next five years.

In this scenario, new mines are expected to play an important role in meeting the demand.

Currently, the world’s top 10 undeveloped silver deposits contain 984 Moz. Discovery Silver’s Cordero project in Mexico leads the ranking:

RankProjectOwnerCountryContained Silver Reserves (Moz)
1CorderoDiscovery SilverMexico266
2Corani Bear Creek Mining CorporationPeru229
3Prognoz Polymetal International plcRussia125
4Bowdens Silver Mines LimitedAustralia66
5Santa Ana Formerly Bear CreekPeru63
6FuwanMinco Silver CorporationChina55
7Nueva EsperanzaKingsgate Consolidated LimitedChile48
8Vares Adriatic Metals PLCBosnia & Herzegovina47
9Terronera Endeavour Silver Corp.Mexico47
10MenkechkaGeoProMining Ltd.Russia38

Cordero is located in Chihuahua State in Mexico, one of the world’s most prolific silver producing regions.

Once in production, it is expected to become one of the top three silver mines in the world.

As silver demand is expected to soar, Discovery Silver offers direct investment exposure to this paradigm shift through its Cordero Project. Click here to learn more about Discovery Silver.

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