Belarus has no intent to sell the controlling interest in OAO Belaruskali, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said as he visited the Berezovsky mine of the Belarusian fertilizer manufacturer OAO Belaruskali on 17 July.
“I was not going to and I am not going to sell Belaruskali to anyone for peanuts. If someone wants to buy it, they have to pay the price we’ve set. Nobody is going to reduce the price,” the head of state stressed. Alexander Lukashenko said only some shares may be sold but not the controlling interest.
The President remarked a lot had been said lately about Belaruskali’s privatization. “I believed and still believe that it is the legacy of the Belarusian people. There is a lot of talks now and even pressure, pressure from various sides, even from the countries we depend on a lot. This is why it is difficult to resist the pressure,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian head of state reminded he had requested an assessment of the company and the price had turned out to be $30-32 billion. “It will not be lower. If you want to, we will be able to sell shares to you but not the controlling interest. We do not want to lose control. We can sell 10%, 20%, 25% for a price. 25% will cost $8.5-9 billion. If someone wants it, come and pay for it. No buyers like that have been found. Everyone wants to get the entire company for $8 billion. I told them to see themselves out, the price is not acceptable. It is my principled position. I see no sense in selling Belaruskali,” the head of state said.
Speaking about the unwillingness to sell the controlling interest in Belaruskali, Alexander Lukashenko specified: “I am not afraid of losing control or power as some claim. The thing is it was not me who built the company, an entire generation contributed its labor. Nobody will sell it for peanuts. I say it resolutely in public”.
During the working trip Alexander Lukashenko got familiar with the plans to develop Belarus' industry, results of work to promote export in 2011, and export deliveries of the company in 2012. Moreover, the sides discussed problems in relations with Russian partners. The President did not exclude that r elations with Uralkali, the Russian shareholder in Belarusian Potash Company, may be revised. “All the issues regarding Belarusian Potash Company should be handled by 1 September one way or another. We do not need any more fuss regarding it even if we have to revise our relations with the Russians [Uralkali]. Let us make strategic decisions. We need complete clarity,” the head of state said.
“If they want to work independently, let them. BPC must be preserved in any case. Because in addition to selling potash fertilizers a potash company also has to deal with compound fertilizers,” the President believes.
Alexander Lukashenko underlined Belarusian Potash Company is a brand that hardly anyone will scrap today. “Either they [Uralkali] work together or go separate ways. But they will not do that. They don’t need the breakup. It means an honest way should be followed,” the President said.
“This is why all the issues must be addressed by 1 September. I am going to discuss it with the prime minister of Russia tomorrow,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The head of state was informed that as of 1 January 2012 the production capacity of Belaruskali made up 10.3 million tonnes per year. The Krasnaya Sloboda and Bereza mines will allow Belaruskali ramping up production to 11 million tonnes of mineral fertilizers in 2013.
It will be also possible to increase Belaruskali's output after the construction of a mining and concentration facility at the Petrikov deposit, Gomel Oblast, with the capacity of at least 1.5 million tonnes of potassium chloride per year. A business plan and a feasibility study are underway. The reserves appraisal is being conducted using international standards. A tender to choose a co-investor for the project is to be announced later. Director General of Belaruskali Valery Kiriyenko said that the company’s contribution to the project will make up 50%, the remaining funds are to be provided by a co-investor.
Alexander Lukashenko noted that if Belaruskali is able to implement the project on its own, it does not make sense to look for an investor and give him half of the future enterprise. Valery Kiriyenko said that this could be done with the help of loans. “That is what I am talking about. After all, a co-investor would also use loans, so the burden on the Petrikov deposit will be the same. Therefore, it would be better if this deposit remains a state-run property,” the President added.
Taking into account all projects in the potash industry, Belarus can raise the production of potash fertilizers to over 15 million tonnes per year by 2020.
Alexander Lukashenko also launched the Bereza mine of Belaruskali, meet with the personnel of the company.
Workers of the company asked the President what he expects from the Belarusian Olympians in London .
“We always set a kind of a bar for ourselves: 25 medals – hail the heroes. But the athletes have recently said that to win 25 medals is difficult. Well, let it be 20 but five of them should be gold. It is also difficult, they say. But everybody speaks about 25 medals, so I agree,” the President said.
The same day Alexander Lukashenko visited the national speleotherapy hospital in Soligorsk.
Along with conventional treatment the hospital has been offering specialized speleotherapy courses for patients with breathing problems for 22 years. The speleotherapy ward is located 420 meters below the surface in a block of rock salt and potassium at premises of a potassium mine of the first mine group of OAO Belaruskali. The reconstructed speleotherapy ward can welcome up to 120 people at a time. It offers optimal air composition as the key treatment tool. Apart from the underground department the hospital has a surface wing.
The head of state went down into the speleotherapy ward to get familiar with treatment procedures.
The head of state believes the number of speleotherapy seats should be increased. “There is space to get more people in. For instance, children could use double-deck beds. The available space should be used in full,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The President pointed out the hospital provides services to Belarusians and foreigners alike. He believes there is the capacity to export more medical services. He said he wanted the possibility examined. “Everything here should be ideal by 1 September,” the head of state stressed.
Since its foundation, the hospital has treated over 32,000 people from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Baltic states, Russia, Ukraine and other countries. Every year it welcomes about 2,000 patients, with the share of kids aged 10-17 as large as 20%.
Alexander Lukashenko talked to patients of the hospital. The head of state was told that they feel well for a year after a complete treatment course. The president said he believes the good results warranty expansion of the hospital.