August 22, 2011 / 1:12 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 2-Compass Minerals says storm hits Ontario mine; shares fall

* Co says cannot determine impact on financial results now

* Mine accounts for 65 pct of total capacity

* Shares at more than two-year low (Adds analyst comments, share movement)

By Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay and Swetha Gopinath

BANGALORE, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Compass Minerals International Inc said a severe storm on Sunday hit operations at its flagship Ontario mine and killed an employee, sending its shares down to their lowest in more than two years.

The Goderich, Ontario, rock salt mine, is the world’s largest with a production capacity of 9 million tonnes, the company said. The mine accounts for nearly two-thirds of Compass’ total capacity.

Kansas City-based Compass, a provider of highway de-icing salt and specialty fertilizer, operates a salt mine and salt mechanical evaporation plant in Goderich, Ontario.

Compass said the impact on its financial results cannot be determined at this time.

“The resulting outage could impact earnings per share for the 2011-12 winter rock salt season,” Ticonderoga Securities analyst Mark Gulley said in a note to clients.

Some of the mine’s surface structures and the evaporation plant sustained significant damage that will prevent operations at these facilities until repairs are made, said the largest producer of magnesium chloride in North America.

“Depending on what type of products are produced in the evaporation plant, those tonnes might be higher priced than the rock salt,” Morningstar analyst Elizabeth Collins said.

“If the underground operations are not allowed to start until the topside repairs are finished, then it is going to have an impact on the company. But it is too soon to tell,” she said.

There was no damage to the underground operations of the Goderich salt mine and there are no miners currently underground, Compass said.

Compass shares, which plunged 4 percent to a low of $69.48, were trading at $70.01 in afternoon trade on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Swetha Gopinath and Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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