* Higher potash prices pushes profits 84 pct up last year
* Production rises 16 pct to 2.26 million tonnes in 2011
AMMAN, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Jordan’s Arab Potash Company , one of the world’s largest producers and suppliers of potash, said on Thursday net profits in 2011 jumped 84 percent to 299 million dinars ($423 million), driven by robust prices due to higher fertiliser demand.
A copy of the firm’s shareholders’ report obtained by Reuters showed a 28.8 percent rise in net operating income to 720 million dinars in 2011 from 559 million dinars the previous year.
Company sources say potash prices have risen due to higher grain prices that have led to increased fertiliser demand, allowing world fertiliser firms to raise prices on nitrogen, phosphate and potash.
Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, the world’s largest producer of potash, owns a 27.9 percent share in Arab Potash. Several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have minority holdings.
Total sales rose 7.56 percent in 2011 to 2.24 million tonnes. Earlier last year the firm said it had signed a $200 million contract with Indian Potash Ltd to ship 375,000 tonnes until mid 2012.
The company’s major markets are India and China. It said last year it signed a $145 million deal with one of China’s biggest fertiliser importers Sinofert Holdings to supply the Chinese market with 300,000 tonnes of potash.
Last year also saw a 16 percent rise in the firm’s production of potash to 2.258 million tonnes from around 1.9 million tonnes in 2011, helped by the completion of expansion projects in its Dead Sea plants.
Officials say the company’s performance has recovered since a fall in profits after the economic crisis in 2009, citing continued steady demand, especially in India and China.