☒ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
☐TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _______ to _______
Commission File Number 001-31921
Compass Minerals International, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation ororganization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
9900 West 109th Street, Suite 100
(Address of principal executive offices)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common stock, $0.01 par value
The New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing
requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
As of June 28, 2019, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $1,861,868,707, based on the closing sale price of $54.95 per share, as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.
The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s $0.01 par value common stock at February 21, 2020 was 33,892,068 shares.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Parts into which Incorporated
Portions of the Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held May 15, 2020
Certain statements in this annual report on Form 10-K (this “report”), including without limitation our or management’s beliefs, expectations or opinions; statements regarding future events or future financial performance; our plans, objectives and strategies; our outlook, including expected sales volumes; the strategic evaluation of our Plant Nutrition South America business; existing or potential capital expenditures and investments; the industry and our competition; projected sources of cash flow; potential legal liability; proposed legislation and regulatory action; the seasonal distribution of working capital requirements; our reinvestment of foreign earnings outside the U.S.; repatriation of foreign earnings to the U.S.; our ability to optimize cash accessibility and minimize tax expense; the impact of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; our debt service requirements; our liquidity needs; outcomes of matters with taxing authorities; and the seasonality of our business, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are those that predict or describe future events or trends and that do not relate solely to historical matters. We use words such as “may,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “will,” “likely,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “intend,” “plan,” “forecast,” “outlook,” “project,” “estimate” and similar expressions suggesting future outcomes or events to identify forward-looking statements or forward-looking information. These statements are based on our current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially. In evaluating these statements, you should carefully consider various risks, uncertainties and factors including, but not limited to, those listed under “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this report. Forward-looking statements are only predictions and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements expressed or implied in this report as a result of factors, risks, and uncertainties, over many of which we do not have control.
Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable as of the date of this report, we cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. We do not undertake, and hereby disclaim any obligation or duty, unless otherwise required to do so by applicable securities laws, to update any forward-looking statement after the date of this report regardless of any new information, future events or other factors. The inclusion of any statement in this report does not constitute our admission that the events or circumstances described in such statement are material to us.
Factors that could cause actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the following:
risks related to our mining and industrial operations;
dependency on a limited number of key production and distribution facilities and critical equipment;
strikes, other forms of work stoppage or slowdown or other union activities;
the inability to fund necessary capital expenditures or successfully complete capital projects;
supply constraints or price increases for energy and raw materials used in our production processes;
our indebtedness and inability to pay our indebtedness;
restrictions in our debt agreements that may limit our ability to operate our business or require accelerated debt payments;
financial assurance requirements;
the inability of our customers to access credit or a default by our customers of trade credit extended by us or financing we have guaranteed;
our payment of any dividends;
the impact of competition on the sales of our products;
risks associated with our international operations and sales;
the impact of anticipated changes in plant nutrition product prices and customer application rates;
conditions in the agricultural sector and supply and demand imbalances for competing plant nutrition products;
increasing costs or a lack of availability of transportation services;
the seasonal demand for our products;
our rights and governmental authorizations to mine and operate our properties;
compliance with foreign and U.S. laws and regulations related to import and export requirements and anti-corruption laws;
compliance with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations;
misappropriation or infringement claims relating to intellectual property;
product liability claims and product recalls;
inability to obtain required product registrations or increased regulatory requirements;
changes in industry standards and regulatory requirements;
our ability to successfully implement our strategies and the outcome of the strategic evaluation of our Plant Nutrition South America business;
the loss of key personnel;
a compromise of our computer systems, information technology or operations technology or the inability to protect confidential or proprietary data;
our ability to expand our business through acquisitions, integrate acquired businesses and realize anticipated benefits from acquisitions;
domestic and international general business and economic conditions; and
other risk factors included in this report or reported from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). See “Where You Can Find More Information.”
MARKET AND INDUSTRY DATA AND FORECASTS
This report includes market share and industry data and forecasts that we obtained from publicly available information and industry publications, surveys, market research, internal company surveys and consultant surveys. Industry publications and surveys, consultant surveys and forecasts generally state that the information contained therein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but there can be no assurance as to the accuracy and completeness of such information. We have not independently verified any of the data from third-party sources nor have we ascertained the underlying economic assumptions relied upon therein. Similarly, internal company surveys, industry forecasts and market research, which we believe to be reliable based upon management’s knowledge of the industry, have not been verified by any independent sources. Except where otherwise noted, references to North America include only the continental United States (“U.S.”) and Canada, references to the United Kingdom (“U.K.”) include only England, Scotland and Wales, and statements as to our position relative to our competitors or as to market share refer to the most recent available data. Statements concerning (a) North American consumer and industrial salt and highway deicing salt markets are generally based on historical sales volumes, (b) U.K. highway deicing salt sales are generally
based on historical production capacity, and (c) sulfate of potash are generally based on historical sales volumes. Except where otherwise noted, all references to tons refer to “short tons” and all amounts are in U.S. dollars. One short ton equals 2,000 pounds.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION
We file annual, quarterly and current reports and other information with the SEC and our SEC filings are available at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Copies of these documents are also available on our website, www.compassminerals.com. The information on these websites is not part of this report and is not incorporated by reference into this report. Further, our references to website URLs are intended to be inactive textual references only.
You may also request a copy of any of our filings, at no cost, by writing or telephoning:
Compass Minerals International, Inc.
9900 West 109th Street, Suite 100
Overland Park, Kansas 66210
For general inquiries concerning us, please call (913) 344-9200.
Unless the context requires otherwise, references in this annual report tothe “Company,” “Compass Minerals,” “CMP,” “we,” “us” and “our” referto Compass Minerals International, Inc. (“CMI,” the parent holding company) and its consolidated subsidiaries collectively.
Compass Minerals is a leading provider of essential minerals focused on safely delivering where and when it matters to help solve nature’s challenges for customers and communities. Our salt products help keep roadways safe during winter weather and are used in numerous other consumer, industrial and agricultural applications. Our plant nutrition business manufactures an innovative and diverse portfolio of products that improve the quality and yield of crops, while supporting sustainable agriculture. Additionally, our specialty chemical business serves the water treatment industry and other industrial processes. As of December 31, 2019, we operate 21 production and packaging facilities with more than 3,000 personnel throughout the U.S., Canada, Brazil and the U.K, including:
The largest underground rock salt mine in the world in Goderich, Ontario, Canada;
The largest dedicated rock salt mine in the U.K. in Winsford, Cheshire;
A solar evaporation facility located near Ogden, Utah, which is both the largest sulfate of potash specialty fertilizer (“SOP”) production site and the largest solar salt production site in the Western Hemisphere;
Several mechanical evaporation facilities producing consumer and industrial salt; and
Multiple facilities producing essential agricultural nutrients and specialty chemicals in Brazil.
Our salt business provides highway deicing salt to customers in North America and the U.K. as well as consumer deicing and water conditioning products, ingredients used in consumer and commercial food preparation and other salt-based products for consumer, agricultural and industrial applications in North America. In the U.K., we operate a records management business utilizing excavated areas of our Winsford salt mine with one other location in London, England.
Our plant nutrition business produces and markets specialty plant nutrition products worldwide to distributors and retailers of crop inputs, as well as growers. Our principal plant nutrition product in our Plant Nutrition North America segment is SOP, which we market under the trade name Protassium+. We also sell various premium specialty plant nutrient products under our Wolf Trax and other brands.
In October 2016, we significantly expanded our plant nutrition business with the acquisition of Compass Minerals América do Sul Indústria e Comércio S.A. (“Compass Minerals South America”), which constitutes our Plant Nutrition South America segment. The Plant Nutrition South America segment operates two primary businesses in Brazil—agricultural productivity, which manufactures and distributes a broad offering of specialty plant nutrition solution-based products, and chemical solutions, which manufactures and markets specialty chemicals, primarily for the water treatment industry and for use in other industrial processes.
We sell our salt and plant nutrition products primarily in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, the U.K. and the European Union (“EU”). See Note 15 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for financial information relating to our operations by geographic areas.
Salt is indispensable and enormously versatile with thousands of reported uses. In addition, there are no known cost-effective alternatives for most high-volume uses. Through the use of effective mining techniques and efficient production processes, we leverage our high-grade salt deposits, which are among the most extensive in the world. Further, many of our Salt assets are in locations that are logistically favorable to our core markets. Our strategy for this business is to focus on driving profitability from every ton we produce through cost efficiency as well as commercial and operational execution.
Through our Salt segment, we produce, market and sell salt (sodium chloride) and magnesium chloride in North America and sodium chloride in the U.K. Our Salt products include rock salt, mechanically-evaporated salt, solar-evaporated salt, brine magnesium chloride and flake magnesium chloride. While we also purchase potassium chloride (“KCl”) and calcium chloride to sell as finished products or to blend with sodium chloride to produce specialty products, sodium chloride represents the vast majority of the products we produce, market and sell. In 2019, the Salt segment accounted for approximately 60% of our gross sales (see Note 15 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for segment financial information).
Our Salt products are used in a wide variety of applications, including as a deicer for roadways, consumer and professional use, as an ingredient in chemical production, for water treatment, human and animal nutrition and for a variety of other consumer and industrial uses.
Historical demand for salt has remained relatively stable during periods of rising prices and through a variety of economic cycles due to its relatively low cost and diverse number of end uses. As a result, our cash flows from our Salt segment are not materially impacted by economic cycles. However, demand for deicing salt products is primarily affected by the number and intensity of snow events and temperatures in our service territories.
Salt Industry Overview
In our primary markets, we estimate that the consumption of highway deicing rock salt in North America, including rock salt used in chemical manufacturing processes, is approximately 39 million tons per year, assuming average winter weather conditions, while the consumer and industrial market is approximately 10 million tons per year. In the U.K., we estimate that the consumption of highway deicing salt is approximately 2 million tons per year, assuming average winter weather conditions. According to the latest available data from the U.S. Geological Survey (“USGS”), during the 30-year period ending in 2016, salt production in the U.S. has increased at a historical average rate of approximately 1% per year, although there have been recent fluctuations above and below this average driven primarily by winter weather variability.
Salt prices vary according to purity, end use and variations in refining and packaging processes. According to the latest USGS data, during the 30-year period ending in 2016, salt prices in the U.S. have increased at a historical average rate of approximately 3% - 4% per year, although there have been recent fluctuations above and below this average. Due to salt’s relatively low production cost, transportation and handling costs tend to be a significant component of the total delivered cost, which makes logistics management and customer service key competitive factors in the industry. The high relative cost associated with transportation of salt tends to favor producers located nearest to customers.
As of December 31, 2019, salt mining, other production activities and packaging are conducted at 11 of our facilities. The three processing methods we use to produce salt are described below.
Underground Rock Salt Mining - We produce most of the salt we sell through underground mining. In North America, we use a combination of continuous mining and drill and blast techniques. At our Winsford, U.K. mine, we utilize continuous mining techniques. We introduced continuous mining at our Goderich, Ontario mine in 2012 and shifted all of our Goderich mine production to this technology at the end of 2017. Mining machinery moves salt from the salt face to conveyor belts, which transport the salt to the mill center where it is crushed and screened. It is then hoisted to the surface where the processed salt is loaded onto shipping vessels, railcars or trucks. The primary power sources for each of our rock salt mines are electricity and diesel fuel. Rock salt is sold in our highway deicing product lines and for numerous applications in our consumer and industrial product lines.
Mechanical Evaporation - Mechanical evaporation involves creating salt-saturated brine from brine wells in underground salt deposits and subjecting this salt-saturated brine to vacuum pressure and heat to precipitate and crystallize salt. The primary power sources used for this process are natural gas and electricity. The resulting product has a high purity and uniform physical shape. Mechanically evaporated salt is primarily sold through our consumer and industrial salt product lines.
Solar Evaporation - Solar evaporation is used in areas of the world where high-salinity brine is available and weather conditions provide for a high natural evaporation rate. Salt-saturated brine is pumped into a series of large open ponds where sun and wind evaporate the water and crystallize the salt, which is then mechanically harvested and processed through washing, drying and screening. We produce solar salt at the Great Salt Lake near Ogden, Utah and sell it through both our consumer and industrial and our highway deicing product lines. We also produce magnesium chloride using solar evaporation. After sodium chloride and potassium-rich salts precipitate from brine, a concentrated magnesium chloride brine solution remains, which becomes the raw material we use to produce several magnesium chloride products. We primarily sell these products in our Salt segment through our consumer and industrial and highway deicing product lines.
Operations and Facilities
Canada - We produce finished Salt products at four locations in Canada. Rock salt mined at our Goderich mine serves highway deicing markets and consumer and industrial markets in Canada and the Great Lakes region of the U.S., principally through a series of depots located around the Great Lakes and through our packaging facilities. Mechanically evaporated salt used for our consumer and industrial product lines is produced at three of our facilities strategically located throughout Canada: Amherst, Nova Scotia in Eastern Canada; Goderich, Ontario in Central Canada; and Unity, Saskatchewan in Western Canada.
United States - We produce finished Salt products at three locations in the U.S. Our Cote Blanche, Louisiana rock salt mine primarily serves highway deicing customers through a series of depots located along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers (and their major tributaries) and chemical and agricultural customers in the Southern and Midwestern U.S. Our solar evaporation facility located near Ogden, Utah principally serves the Midwestern and Western U.S. consumer and industrial markets, provides salt for highway deicing and chemical applications and produces magnesium chloride, which is used in deicing, dust control and unpaved road surface stabilization applications. The production capacity for solar-evaporated salt at our Utah facility is currently only limited by demand. Mechanically evaporated salt for our U.S. consumer and industrial customers is produced at our Lyons, Kansas plant. We also operate three salt packaging facilities located in Illinois, Minnesota and New York.
United Kingdom - Our Winsford rock salt mine in Northwest England, near Manchester, serves the U.K. highway deicing market, primarily in England and Wales.
Our current production capacity is approximately 15.6 million tons of salt per year. The following table shows the annual production capacity and type of salt produced at each of our owned or leased production locations as of December 31, 2019:
Annual Production Capacity(a)
Goderich, Ontario Mine
Cote Blanche, Louisiana Mine
Lyons, Kansas Plant
Unity, Saskatchewan Plant
Goderich, Ontario Plant
Amherst, Nova Scotia Plant
Winsford, Cheshire Mine
(a) Annual production capacity is our estimate of the tons that could be produced assuming a normal amount of scheduled down time and operation of our facilities under normal working conditions, including staffing levels, based on annualized achieved monthly production rates or design capacity. As we continue our efforts to optimize and refine our production methods, such as continuous mining at our Goderich salt mine, we will update our estimates if necessary.
(b) Solar salts deposited annually substantially exceed the amount converted into finished products. The amount presented here represents an approximate average amount produced based on recent market demand.
(c) The magnesium chloride amount includes both brine and flake.
Actual annual Salt production volume levels may vary from the annual production capacity shown in the table above due to a number of factors, including variations in the winter weather conditions which impact demand for highway and consumer deicing products, the quality of the reserves and the nature of the geologic formation that we are mining at a particular time, unplanned downtime due to safety concerns, incidents and mechanical failures, and other operating conditions. The chart below shows annual Salt production volumes, including magnesium chloride, at our owned and leased production locations:
* Excludes solar salt harvested at our Utah facility that is not converted into finished product and salt processed at our packaging facilities.
Our production facilities have access to vast mineral deposits. At all of our production locations, we estimate the recoverable salt reserves to last at least several more decades at current production rates and capacities. Our rights to extract those minerals may be contractually limited by geographic boundaries or time. We believe that we will be able to continue extending these agreements, as we have in the past, at commercially reasonable terms without incurring substantial costs or material modifications to the existing lease terms and conditions, thereby allowing us to fully utilize our existing mineral rights.
Our underground mines in Canada (Goderich, Ontario), the U.S. (Cote Blanche, Louisiana) and the U.K. (Winsford, Cheshire) make up 84% of our salt production capacity as of December 31, 2019. Each of these mines is operated with modern mining equipment and utilizes subsurface improvements, such as vertical shaft lift systems, milling and crushing facilities, maintenance and repair shops and extensive raw materials handling systems.
We own the mine site at Goderich, Ontario and maintain a mineral lease for mineral reserves with the provincial government, which grants us the right to mine salt at this site. This mineral lease expires in 2022, and we have an option to renew the lease until
2043 after demonstrating to the lessor that the mine’s useful life is greater than the term of the lease. The Cote Blanche mine is operated under land and mineral leases with third-party landowners who grant us the right to mine salt. The mine site and salt reserves at the Winsford mine are owned. We regularly perform mineral reserve studies at our mines to confirm the remaining mineral reserves. The table below reflects current information about our mines:
Years in operation
Remaining mine life*
547.6 million tons
306.0 million tons
28.7 million tons
*Based upon the average rates of production used in the latest mineral study.
Our mineral interests are amortized on an individual mine basis over estimated useful lives not exceeding 99 years primarily using the units-of-production method. Our mineral reserve estimates of the remaining tons are derived from periodic reserve studies completed by third-party geological engineering firms. Our mineral reserve estimates and the third-party reserve studies are based on many factors, including the area and volume covered by our mining rights, assumptions regarding our extraction rates based upon an expectation of operating the mines on a long-term basis and the quality of in-place reserves. Established criteria for proven and probable reserves are primarily applicable to mining deposits of discontinuous metal, where both the presence of ore and its variable grade need to be precisely identified. However, the massive continuous nature of evaporative deposits, such as salt deposits, requires proportionately less data for the same degree of confidence in mineral reserves, both in terms of quantity and quality. Reserve studies performed by third-party geological engineering firms suggest that most of our mineral reserves are characterized as probable mineral reserves, with smaller quantities as proven mineral reserves. We have classified our mineral reserves as probable reserves.
In 2012, we acquired mining rights to approximately 100 million tons of salt reserves in the Chilean Atacama Desert. This reserve estimate is based upon an initial report. We will need to complete a feasibility study before we proceed with the development of this project to ensure our salt reserves are probable. The development of this project will require significant infrastructure to establish extraction and logistics capabilities.
We package our Salt products at three additional Company-owned and operated facilities. We estimate that our annual combined packaging capacity at these three facilities is 275,000 tons. Our packaging capacity is based on our estimate of the tons that can be packaged at these facilities assuming a normal amount of scheduled down-time and operation of our facilities under normal working conditions, including staffing levels. We have the capability to significantly increase our annual packaging capacity by increasing our staffing levels in response to demand.
Products and Sales
We sell our Salt products through our highway deicing product line (which includes brine magnesium chloride as well as rock salt treated with this mineral) and our consumer and industrial product line (which includes salt as well as products containing magnesium chloride and calcium chloride in both pure form and blended with salt).
Highway deicing, including salt sold to chemical customers, constituted 61% of our 2019 Salt segment gross sales. Our principal customers are states, provinces, counties, municipalities and road maintenance contractors that purchase bulk deicing salt, both treated and untreated, for ice control on public roadways. Highway deicing salt in North America is sold primarily through an annual tendered bid contract process with governmental entities, as well as through multi-year contracts, with price, product quality and delivery capabilities as the primary competitive market factors. Some sales also occur through negotiated sales contracts with third-party customers, particularly in the U.K. Since transportation costs are a relatively large portion of the cost to deliver products to customers, locations of salt sources and distribution networks also play a significant role in the ability of suppliers to cost-effectively serve customers. We have an extensive network of approximately 80 depots for storage and distribution of highway deicing salt in North America. The majority of these depots are located on the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River and Ohio River systems. Deicing salt product from our Utah facility supplies customers in the Western and upper Midwest regions of the U.S. Treated rock salt, which is typically rock salt with magnesium chloride brine and organic materials that enhance the salt’s performance, is sold throughout our markets.
We believe our production capability at our Winsford, Cheshire, U.K. mine and favorable logistics position enhance our ability to meet the U.K.’s winter demands. Due to our strong position, we are viewed as a key supplier by the U.K.’s Highways Agency. In the U.K., approximately 75% of our highway deicing customers have multi-year contracts.
Winter weather variability is the most significant factor affecting salt sales for deicing applications, because mild winters reduce the need for salt used in ice and snow control. On average, over the last three years, approximately two-thirds of our deicing product sales occurred during the North American and European winter months of November through March. The vast majority of our North American deicing sales are made in Canada and the Midwestern U.S. where inclement weather during the winter months causes dangerous road conditions. In keeping with industry practice, we stockpile salt to meet estimated requirements for the next winter season. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Seasonality” for more information on the seasonality of our Salt segment results.
Our principal chemical customers are producers of intermediate chemical products used in the production of vinyls and other chemicals, pulp and paper, as well as water treatment and a variety of other industrial uses. We typically have multi-year supply agreements with these customers. Price, service, product quality and security of supply are the major competitive market factors.
Sales of our consumer and industrial products accounted for 39% of our 2019 Salt segment gross sales. We are the third largest producer of consumer and industrial salt products in North America. These products include commercial and consumer applications, such as water conditioning, consumer and professional ice control, food processing, agricultural applications, table salt and a variety of industrial applications. We believe we are among the largest private-label producers of water conditioning salt in North America and of table salt in Canada. Our Sifto brand encompasses a full line of salt products, which are well recognized in Canada.
Our consumer and industrial business has broad product lines with both private-label and Company brands. Our consumer and industrial product line is distributed through many channels including retail, agricultural, industrial, janitorial and sanitation, and resellers. These consumer and industrial products are channeled from our plants and third-party warehouses to our customers using a combination of direct sales personnel, contract personnel and a network of brokers or manufacturers’ representatives.
The chart below shows our annual sales volumes of Salt products:
We face strong competition in each of the markets in which we operate. In North America, other large, nationally and internationally recognized companies compete with our Salt products. In addition, there are also several smaller regional producers of salt. There are several importers of salt into North America, which mostly impact the East Coast and West Coast of the U.S. where we have minimal market presence. Two competitors serve the highway deicing salt market in the U.K., one in Northern England and one in Northern Ireland. Typically, there are not significant imports of highway deicing salt into the U.K.
Salt is a commodity, which limits the potential for product differentiation and increases competition. Additionally, low barriers to entry in the consumer and industrial markets increase competition. Our advantageous geographical locations, superior assets and distribution network strengthen our competitive position.
Fertilizers are critical for efficient crop production using the limited arable land resources available around the world. The nutrients needed to ensure plant health can be divided into three categories:
macro nutrients - the traditional NPK fertilizers (nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)),
secondary nutrients - calcium, magnesium and sulfur, and
specialty plant nutrients - trace elements of iron, manganese, copper, boron, zinc, molybdenum, chlorine and nickel.
In addition, a wide range of nutritional and functional enhancers, biostimulants and adjuvants are critical for a plant’s metabolic processes and overall stress and disease resistance. The application and necessity of essential nutritional supplements is based on Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, which is the principle that only by increasing the amount of the scarcest nutrient can the growth of a plant or crop be enhanced, despite the plentiful presence of other nutrients. In parallel, the increased adoption of technologically advanced seeds (both conventional and genetically modified) has driven farmers around the globe to address the higher nutritional demands of crops and to apply essential nutritional supplements to unlock the yield potential embedded in these seeds.
Our plant nutrition business focuses on higher-value plant nutrients including SOP, specialty formulations of macro fertilizers and a wide range of high-value specialty products incorporating secondary nutrients, specialty plant nutrients and nutritional and
functional enhancers. Our products contribute to improved overall plant-metabolism, nutrient uptake and fixing, stress resistance, plant defense mechanisms, energy conversion, cell division, root enhancement and leaf, flower and fruit formation, among other benefits. The yield-enhancing properties of these supplements have been shown to provide significant farm productivity gains. Our plant nutrition strategy is based upon maximizing the profitability of our current product portfolio, innovating new technology-driven products and robust commercialization of these technologies globally.
Factors influencing the plant nutrition market include world grain and food supply, currency fluctuations, weather and climate change, grower incomes, changes in consumer diets, general levels of economic activity, government food programs, governmental agriculture and energy policies in the U.S. and around the world, and the amount or type of crop grown in certain locations, or the type or amount of fertilizer product used. In addition, our plant nutrition results can be impacted by seasonality (see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Seasonality” for more information).
In 2019, our plant nutrition business, on a combined basis, accounted for 40% of our gross sales (see Note 15 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for segment financial information). The chart below shows our 2019 plant nutrition business gross sales by geography:
PLANT NUTRITION NORTH AMERICA SEGMENT
Our Plant Nutrition North America segment includes sales of SOP and specialty plant nutrients. There are two major forms of potassium-based fertilizer, SOP, a specialty form of potassium which also provides plant-ready sulfur, and muriate of potash (“MOP” or “KCl”). The average annual worldwide consumption of all potash fertilizers is approximately 86 million tons, with MOP accounting for approximately 85% of all potash used in fertilizer production based upon the most recent industry data published by CRU International in 2019. SOP represents approximately 9% of all potash production. The remainder of potash is supplied in forms containing varying concentrations of potassium (expressed as potassium oxide) along with different combinations of co-nutrients. SOP, which contains the equivalent of approximately 50% potassium oxide, maintains a price premium over MOP due to the fact that it contains the secondary nutrient, sulfur, does not contain chlorides and is more expensive to produce than MOP. Additionally, many high-value or chloride-sensitive crops experience improved yields and quality when SOP is applied instead of MOP. SOP is also a more cost-effective alternative to other forms of specialty potash.
Our North American SOP sales are concentrated in the Western and Southeastern U.S. where the crops and soil conditions favor the use of low-chloride potassium nutrients. Consequently, weather patterns and field conditions in these locations can impact Plant Nutrition North America sales volumes.
While long-term global consumption of potash has increased in response to growing populations and the need for additional food supplies, the market for commodity potash has been challenged over the last few years due to a downturn in the broader crop market which has pressured grower incomes. We expect the long-term demand for all potassium nutrients to continue to grow as arable land per capita decreases, thereby encouraging improved crop yields. Additionally demand for our SOP products has been resilient despite the challenges facing the global potash market..
We expect our future growth to stem from building a market-leading specialty plant nutrition business through the innovation and commercialization of our products as well as strategic partnerships and collaborations designed to enhance differentiation and provide more technology-driven solutions that growers demand in this market.
Approximately 91% of our Plant Nutrition North America sales in 2019 were made to U.S. customers, who include retail fertilizer dealers and distributors of agricultural products as well as professional turf care customers. In some cases, these dealers
and distributors combine or blend our Plant Nutrition North America products with other fertilizers and minerals to produce fertilizer blends tailored to individual requirements.
Operations and Facilities
We produce SOP at two facilities, both located in North America, namely at our Utah facility on the Great Salt Lake, and our Wynyard, Saskatchewan, Canada facility on Big Quill Lake. Our Utah facility is the largest SOP production site in the western hemisphere and one of only four large-scale solar brine evaporation operations for SOP in the world. The facility operates approximately 55,000 acres of solar evaporation ponds to produce SOP and salt, including magnesium chloride, from the Great Salt Lake’s naturally occurring brine. The facility is located on land that is both owned and leased under renewable leases from the State of Utah. We believe that our property and operating equipment are maintained in good working condition. This facility has the capability to produce up to 320,000 tons of solar pond-based SOP, approximately 750,000 tons of magnesium chloride and 1.5 million tons of salt annually when weather conditions are typical.
These recoverable minerals exist in vast quantities in the Great Salt Lake. We believe the recoverable minerals exceed 100 years of reserves at current production rates and capacities and the lake quantities are so vast that they will not be significantly impacted by our production. While our rights to extract these minerals are contractually limited, we believe we will be able to extend our lease agreements, as we have in the past, at commercially reasonable terms, without incurring substantial costs or incurring material modifications to the existing lease terms and conditions.
Initially, we draw mineral-rich lake water, or brine, from the Great Salt Lake into our solar evaporation ponds. The brine moves through a series of solar evaporation ponds over a two- to three-year production cycle. As the water evaporates and the mineral concentration increases, some of those minerals naturally precipitate out of the brine and are deposited on the pond floors. These deposits provide the minerals necessary for processing into SOP, salt and magnesium chloride. The evaporation process is dependent upon sufficient lake brine levels and hot, arid summer weather conditions. The potassium-bearing salts are mechanically harvested out of the solar evaporation ponds and refined to high-purity SOP in our production facility.
We also have a unique ability to use KCl and other potassium-rich minerals as a raw material feedstock to supplement our solar harvest to help meet demand when it is economically feasible.
We have invested to increase the efficiency and expand the capacity of our Utah facility through upgrades to our processing plant and our solar evaporation ponds. These investments have included modifications to our existing solar evaporation ponds to increase the annual solar harvest and the extraction yield from the harvest and processing capacity of our SOP plant. In 2017, we completed a project to further expand our SOP production capacity by augmenting our ability to convert KCl into SOP. As a result, our annual SOP production capacity at our Utah facility can be scaled up to 550,000 tons, including amounts produced with both solar-pond based feedstock and supplemental KCl feedstock.
We also own our Wynyard, Saskatchewan facility, which contributes 40,000 tons to our annual SOP capacity and is Canada’s only SOP production facility. At this facility, we combine sulfate-rich brine with sourced potassium chloride to create SOP through ion exchange and glaserite processes. This product is high purity and is used in crop nutrient applications as well as specialty, non-agricultural applications.
We hold numerous environmental and mineral extraction permits, water rights and other permits, licenses and approvals from governmental authorities authorizing operations at each of our facilities.
Products and Sales
We currently generate most of our revenue and earnings in our Plant Nutrition North America segment through the production and sale of SOP. Our SOP is sold in various grades under our Protassium+ brand. Our Protassium+ product line consists of different grades sized for use in broadcast spreaders, direct application and liquid fertilizer solutions. Our turf product line consists of grades sized for use by the turf and ornamental markets and for blends used on golf course greens. We also provide an organic product line with grades sized for a wide range of applications.
We also develop and distribute specialty plant nutrients under our Wolf Trax and other brands. These innovative products are based upon proprietary technologies and are focused on improving application efficiency and yield potential through various means, including by increasing root interception points in order to provide accessible plant nutrition at key developmental stages as well as via fertigation, seasonal foliar applications and seed nutrition. Our Wolf Trax and other specialty plant nutrition products contain nutrients that are essential to a wide range of crops, including commodity row crops, with different plants and soil conditions requiring different specialty plant nutrients.
Our Protassium+ and specialty plant nutrition product lines are generally sold to crop input distributors and dealers who then sell our product to farmers and growers. Our commercial efforts focus on educating and selling the agronomic benefits of SOP as a source of potassium nutrients and various specialty plant nutrients to plant health.
SOP is a global market with approximately 60% of the world’s 12 million tons of capacity located in China.
Source: 2019 Market Outlook published by CRU International
We are the leading SOP producer and marketer in North America and we also market SOP products internationally, depending on market conditions. Our major competition for SOP sales in North America includes imports from the EU. Fluctuations in the values of foreign currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar coupled with Baltic freight rates impact the level of international competition we face. As the only SOP producer with production facilities in North America, and as a result of our logistically favorable production site near Ogden, Utah, we estimate that our share of the North American market is sizable. In addition to imported SOP, there is functional competition between SOP and other forms of potassium crop nutrients, such as MOP. The specialty plant nutrient market is highly fragmented. Commodity and specialty crops require specialty plant nutrients in varying degrees depending on the crop and soil conditions. While sales of Wolf Trax products have historically been concentrated in North America, we also sell our specialty plant nutrient products globally, primarily in the EU, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
PLANT NUTRITION SOUTH AMERICA SEGMENT
Our Plant Nutrition South America segment manufactures, distributes and markets a wide array of specialty plant nutrients and supplements developed and formulated from essential primary and secondary nutrients, specialty plant nutrients and biostimulants. These products consist of different chemical molecules, chemical compositions and production processes than conventional NPK fertilizers. This specific category of plant nutrients offers a diversity of delivery mechanisms, low environmental impact, low dosages per acre, and reflects a high degree of innovation and product development. These products also require more marketing than conventional NPK fertilizers, among other differences. Brazilian soils are naturally deficient in nutrients such as zinc, manganese and boron, among others. We estimate that Brazilian farmers, on average, only use approximately 25% of the optimal prescription of essential nutritional supplements. During 2019, 77% of sales generated by Plant Nutrition South America were derived from the manufacturing and marketing of these agricultural products. We believe we are one of the market leaders in Brazil and offer a more comprehensive range of products and brands compared to our competitors.
In addition to agriculture products, this segment produces water and wastewater treatment chemicals in Brazil for cleaning, decontaminating and purifying water as well as process chemicals for industrial use. This business benefits from the rapidly expanding focus on, and increased investment in, improving standards for drinking water purification and wastewater treatment. Our water treatment customers include state and municipal entities, wastewater treatment companies and manufacturing companies that treat their own wastewater. Our chemical solutions business also benefits from growth in Brazilian industrial sectors that use our products, including the oil and gas exploration, mining, pulp and paper production and ethanol production industries. Our involvement in both businesses allows us to benefit from greater purchasing power with suppliers given that a significant portion of the mineral inputs for both businesses are identical. In 2019, 23% of sales generated by Plant Nutrition South America were derived from our chemical solutions business.
Our strategy for Plant Nutrition South America is to leverage our innovative product portfolio and direct-to-farmer sales platform. We expect to continue to drive market growth by increasing the adoption rate and acre penetration of nutritional supplements. Our plan is to reinforce the use of these supplements as a profitable tool to enhance crop productivity. We use a three-pronged approach to deliver under our strategy, consisting of (1) our specialized agronomic research teams, (2) our technical in-the-field agronomic sales force, and (3) continuous innovation.
We expect to increase sales through new product introductions and growth in direct-to-farmer distribution channels. We continually invest in the development of new products and new generations of existing products that meet the specific needs of our customers. As a result of these efforts, our direct-to-end-customer sales to large farmers have increased as a proportion of total agriculture productivity revenues.
Operations and Facilities
We operate nine production facilities throughout Brazil, including a property we jointly operate with a third-party. Our production facilities are located in the Southeast and Northeast parts of Brazil. Our Plant Nutrition South America production facility network has a significant level of integration. While some production facilities are focused on producing chemical and physical transformation of ingredients, such as our Jacareí I production facility with sulfur derivatives, others are specialized in transforming these ingredients into final products for our customers by mixing them with other ingredients produced in different or the same production facilities. We also use by-products from one production facility as a raw material for another production facility where possible.
The table below shows our Plant Nutrition South America production facilities by product line:
(a) We hold a 50% ownership interest through a joint venture with Fermavi Eletroquímica Ltda.
Our products are produced through a series of chemical and physical transformations in automated reactors, granulators, grinders and mixers. Our equipment is capable of processing both primary and secondary sources of raw materials, thus enabling us to rapidly remodel our production process to deal with variations in element concentration in raw material feeds. This also allows us flexibility with regard to raw material purchasing opportunities, allowing us to purchase products that are less expensive on a percentage-contained-metal-basis.
Products and Sales
As of December 31, 2019, our total Plant Nutrition South America portfolio consisted of approximately 875 products, including approximately 650 in agriculture productivity and 225 in chemical solutions. The agriculture productivity products may be applied for different stages of a plant’s life cycle, different soil and other growing conditions, different crop types and using different delivery mechanisms. We also provide value-added services to our customers such as soil analysis programs, technical trainings and conferences, crop field test and research, sales support and specialized technical support, which allow us to tailor our Plant Nutrition South America products and sales to a wide variety of customers, diverse types of crops and multiple regions. Through our chemical solutions business, we manufacture, market and supply water treatment products and chemicals for industrial processes. Our water treatment products have many different uses including algae control, alkalinity control, disinfection control, odor and corrosion control, water filtration and water clarification.
Agricultural Productivity - The Brazilian market for nutritional supplements is highly fragmented with hundreds of market participants. Competitors typically focus their product offerings on specific product categories and delivery mechanisms, geographic regions and selected crops. As a result, we have different competitors for different market situations. The international competitive landscape is also fragmented. We estimate there are approximately 19 international competitors present in Brazil, mainly from the EU.
Market consolidation is likely to continue in the future, as players are challenged to keep up with demands for product innovation, increasingly specialized agronomic and technical skills, the effect of specific legislation, licensing and product registration procedures, cost pressures from economies of scale and other industry trends. Many competitors have limited production capabilities and can better be characterized as resellers, mixers and marketing companies, rather than producers. We differentiate ourselves by innovation, a broad market presence using a large technical sales force, an extensive network of point-of-sales distributors, resellers and cooperatives and direct sales to large farmers and industrial customers. This presence enhances our new product placement capabilities, thereby driving market growth.
Chemical Solutions - We believe we are one of the largest manufacturers of water treatment chemicals in Brazil. We have a strong presence in the Northeast and Southeast regions of Brazil, which allows us to take advantage of efficient logistics due to proximity to raw materials and customers. We estimate that there are approximately five companies that account for approximately two-thirds of the Brazilian water treatment market. However, as the water treatment market is highly regional by nature, average market shares do not reflect the actual competitive strength for each company by geography, product and customer type. Our
strategy is to focus on the regions in which our production facilities are located and where our product’s attributes give us a naturally strong market positions.
In the case of public customers, suppliers of water treatment chemicals compete through a pre-qualification and public bidding process. Barriers to market entry are therefore related to low cost of production (strongly influenced by access to low raw material costs, reduced logistics and large production scale), consistency of product quality and specification, existing customer relationships and previous supply experience.
We believe we are among the seven primary producers of caustic soda, chlorine and bleach in Brazil. Our market position is substantially stronger in the North and Northeast regions of Brazil where we operate.
DeepStore is our records management business in the U.K. that utilizes portions of previously excavated space in our salt mine in Winsford, Cheshire, for secure underground document storage and one warehouse location in London, England. Currently, DeepStore does not have a significant share of the document storage market in the U.K., and it is not material in comparison to our Salt, Plant Nutrition North America and Plant Nutrition South America segments.
To protect our intellectual property, we rely on a combination of patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secret protection, employee and third-party non-disclosure agreements, license arrangements and domain name registrations. These protections are important to our business and we believe that our success is at least partly dependent on the acquisition and maintenance of these rights. However, we rely primarily on the innovative skills, technical competence, operational knowledge and marketing abilities required by our business in order to succeed.
We sell many of our products under a number of registered trademarks that we believe are widely recognized in the industry. Our trademarks registered pursuant to applicable intellectual property laws include COMPASS MINERALS, PROTASSIUM+, WOLF TRAX (and design), NU-TRAX, PROAQUA, KELLUS, PROFOL, AMERICAN STOCKMAN, FREEZGARD, SAFE STEP, SIFTO and SURE PAWS.
Any issued patents, trademarks or copyrights on our proprietary technology may not provide us with substantial protection or be commercially beneficial to us. The issuance of a patent is not conclusive as to its validity or its enforceability. Competitors may challenge our patent rights. If our patents are held unenforceable, our competitors could commercialize our patented technology.
With respect to proprietary know-how, we rely on trade secret protection and confidentiality agreements. Monitoring the unauthorized use of our technology is difficult, and we may not be able to prevent unauthorized use of our technology. The disclosure or misappropriation of our intellectual property could harm our ability to protect our rights and our competitive position (see “Risk Factors—Our intellectual property may be misappropriated or subject to claims of infringement.” for more information).
As of December 31, 2019, we had 3,131 employees, of which 1,258 were located in Brazil, 990 were located in the U.S., 703 were located in Canada and 180 were located in the U.K. Approximately 50% of our workforce in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. and approximately 30% of our global workforce were represented by collective bargaining agreements. Of our 12 collective bargaining agreements in effect on January 1, 2020, four will expire in 2020, two will expire in 2021, five will expire in 2022 and one will expire in 2027. In addition, trade union membership is mandatory in Brazil, where approximately 40% of our global workforce is located.
With respect to each facility at which we produce salt, brine or SOP, permits, licenses and approvals are obtained as needed in the normal course of business based on our mine plans and federal, state, provincial and local regulatory provisions regarding mine permitting and licensing. Based on our historical permitting experience, we expect to be able to continue to obtain necessary mining permits and approvals to support historical rates of production.
Our mineral leases have varying terms. Some will expire after a set term of years, while others continue indefinitely. Many of these leases provide for a royalty payment to the lessor based on a specific amount per ton of minerals extracted or as a percentage of revenue. In addition, we own a number of properties and are party to non-mining leases that permit us to perform activities that are ancillary to our mining operations, such as surface use leases for storage at depots and warehouse leases. We believe that all of our leases were entered into at market terms.
Our operations subject us to an evolving set of international, federal, national, foreign, state, provincial and local environmental, health and safety (“EHS”) laws and regulations. These EHS laws and regulations regulate, or propose to regulate, the conduct of our mining and production operations, including safety procedures and process safety management; management and handling of raw and in-process materials and finished products; air and water quality impacts from our facilities; management of hazardous and solid wastes; remediation of contamination at our facilities and third-party sites; and post-mining land reclamation.
The Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability Committee of our Board of Directors works closely with our management to provide oversight of EHS and sustainability matters impacting us to promote a culture that prioritizes safety, environmental stewardship and sustainability. The committee monitors our EHS and sustainability performance against our targets and objectives. We have a comprehensive EHS management program that strives to consistently achieve predictable performance. Our EHS program includes identifying and managing EHS risks; regulatory compliance; effective policies and procedures; behavior based safety; training and education; facility evaluations; audits; and site leadership accountability for EHS performance and sustainable growth with support from EHS professionals. Site leadership is responsible for day-to-day oversight of EHS performance at their specific location. We routinely conduct audits to verify that each operational site has identified risks, achieved regulatory compliance, strives for continuous EHS improvements and includes behavior-based safety to address at-risk behaviors in the workplace.
We have adopted a five-year environmental strategy plan focused on (i) verifying compliance through a combination of internal and third-party audits, (ii) adopting operational excellence tools and associated efficiencies, and (iii) enhancing our focus on sustainable operations. We also employ and consult with environmental specialists to assess and ensure our compliance with EHS laws and regulations.
Costs of compliance with EHS laws and regulations, including management effort, time and resources, have been and are expected to continue to be significant. New or proposed EHS regulatory programs, as well as future interpretations and enforcement of existing EHS laws and regulations, may require modification to our facilities, substantial increases in equipment and operating costs or interruptions, modifications or a termination of operations, the extent to which we cannot predict and which may involve significant capital costs or increases in operating costs. Anticipating future compliance obligations, implementing compliance plans and estimating future costs can be particularly challenging while EHS laws and regulations are under development and have not been adopted.
While a number of our capital projects indirectly result in environmental improvements, we estimate that our 2019 environmental-specific capital expenditures were $3.6 million. We expect to have approximately the same level of environmental capital expenditures in 2020. However, future capital expenditures are subject to a number of uncertainties, including changes to environmental laws and regulations, changes to our operations or unforeseen remediation requirements, and these expenditures could exceed our expectations.
As of December 31, 2019, we had recorded $2.2 million of accruals for contingent environmental liabilities. We accrue for contingent environmental liabilities when we believe it is probable that we will be responsible, in whole or in part, for environmental investigation or remediation activities and the expenditures for these activities are reasonably estimable. However, the extent and costs of any environmental investigation or remediation activities are uncertain and difficult to estimate and could exceed our expectations, which could materially affect our financial condition and operating results.
Operating Requirements and Impacts
Our operations require permits for extraction of salt and brine, air emissions, surface water discharges of process material and wastes, waste generation, injection of brine and wastewater into subsurface wells and other activities. As a result, we hold numerous environmental and mineral extraction permits, water rights and other permits, licenses and approvals from governmental authorities authorizing operations at each of our facilities. These permits, licenses and approvals are typically subject to renewals and reissuances. Expansion of our operations or production capacity, or preservation of existing rights in some cases, is also predicated upon securing any necessary permits, licenses and approvals. The terms and conditions of future EHS laws and regulations, permits, licenses and approvals may be more stringent and may require increased expenditures on our part. In addition, although we do not engage in hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”), laws and regulations targeting fracking could lead to increased permit requirements and compliance costs for non-fracking operations, including our Salt operations, which require permitted wastewater disposal wells that sometimes receive fluid waste from fracking operations as well.
Our Cote Blanche mine, an underground salt mine located in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, is subject to regulation by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, as amended (the “Mine Act”). MSHA is required to regularly inspect the Cote Blanche mine and issue a citation, or take other enforcement action, if an inspector or authorized representative believes that a violation of the Mine Act or MSHA’s standards or regulations has occurred. As required by MSHA, these operations are regularly inspected by MSHA personnel. See “Mine Safety Disclosures” and Exhibit 95 to this report for information concerning mine safety violations and other regulatory matters required by SEC rules. The cost of compliance and penalties for violations of the Mine Act have been and are expected to continue to be substantial. Our underground salt mines
located in Goderich, Canada and Winsford, UK are subject to similar regulations regarding health and safety, and the cost of compliance with these regulations also have been and are expected to be substantial.
We have post-closure reclamation obligations, primarily arising under our mining permits or by agreement. Many of these obligations include requirements to maintain financial surety bonds to fund reclamation and site cleanup following the ultimate closure of our mines or certain other facilities. As a result, we maintain financial surety bonds to satisfy these obligations.
We are also impacted by the U.S. Clean Air Act (the “Clean Air Act”) and other EHS laws and regulations that regulate air emissions. These regulatory programs may require us to make capital expenditures (for example, by installing expensive emissions abatement equipment), modify our operational practices, obtain additional permits or make other expenditures, which could be significant. Pursuant to the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency reclassified the Salt Lake area as a “serious” non-attainment area in May 2017 due to the presence of certain air pollutants. Because our Utah facility is located in this area, this re-classification could lead to new regulations that could require us to make significant expenditures or require us to modify our operational practices. In addition, we could incur fines or penalties for violations of the Clean Air Act or other EHS laws and regulations that regulate air emissions.
In August 2017, the Brazilian government ratified the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, which commits signatories to compel chlor-alkali facilities to phase out the use of mercury cell facilities by 2025, to ensure that mercury from these facilities is disposed of in an environmentally sound manner and to subject these facilities to record keeping and reporting requirements. If the Brazil government adopts regulations limiting the use of mercury pursuant to the convention’s requirements or otherwise, our Igarassu, Brazil facility which operates a mercury cell facility could be impacted. We cannot predict the timing, extent or content of the final regulations related to the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, or their ultimate cost to, or impact on us. To support transitioning away from mercury use at our Igarassu facility, we have invested in, and plan to continue to invest in, non-mercury technology as well as waste water and storm water treatment improvement projects.
We endeavor to conduct our operations in compliance with all applicable EHS laws, regulations, permits or approvals. However, because of extensive and comprehensive regulatory requirements, violations occur from time to time in our industry, and from time to time we have received notices from governmental agencies that we are not in compliance with certain EHS laws, regulations, permits or approvals. Upon receipt of these notices, we evaluate the matter and take all appropriate corrective actions.
Many of our past and present facilities have been in operation for decades. Operations at these facilities have historically involved the use and handling of regulated chemical substances, salt, salt byproducts and process tailings by us and our predecessors.
At many of these facilities, releases and disposal of regulated substances have occurred and could occur in the future, which could require us to investigate, undertake or pay for remediation activities under the U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) and other similar EHS laws and regulations. These laws and regulations may impose “no fault” liability on past and present owners and operators of facilities associated with the release or disposal of hazardous substances, regardless of fault or the legality of the original actions. Additionally, one past or present owner or operator may be required to bear more than its proportional share of liability if payments cannot be obtained from other responsible parties.
In addition, third parties have alleged in the past and could allege in the future that our operations have resulted in contamination to neighboring off-site areas or third-party facilities, including third-party disposal facilities for regulated substances generated by our operations, which could result in liability for us under CERCLA or other EHS laws and regulations.
We have incurred and expect to continue to incur costs and liabilities as a result of our current and former operations and our predecessor’s operations. In the past, we have agreed to undertake or pay for investigations to determine whether remediation will be required under CERCLA or otherwise to address any contamination. In other instances, we have agreed to perform remediation activities or have undertaken voluntary remediation to address identified contamination. Ongoing investigation and remediation activities at our property in Kenosha, Wisconsin are described in Note 12 of our Consolidated Financial Statements.
We are subject to a number of risks which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and the value of our securities. You should carefully consider the following risks and all of the information set forth in this report. The risks described below are not the only ones facing our company. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our mining and industrial operations can involve inherently risky activities.
Our operations can involve or be subject to significant risks and hazards, including environmental hazards, industrial accidents and natural disasters. Our underground salt mining operations and related processing activities may be subject to industrial and mining accidents, fire, natural disasters, explosions, unusual or unexpected geological formations or movements, water intrusion and flooding. For example, MSHA considers our Cote Blanche mine to be a “gaseous mine” and, as a result, is subject to a
heightened risk of explosion and fire. In addition, the types and volumes of certain chemicals manufactured by our Plant Nutrition South America segment’s chemical solutions business pose process safety management risks, including hazards related to chemical process manufacturing and the related storage, handling and transportation of raw materials, products and wastes. These potential risks include pipeline and storage tank leaks and ruptures; explosions and fires; mechanical failures; earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters; and chemical spills and other discharges or releases of toxic or hazardous substances or gases at our sites or during transportation.
These hazardous activities pose significant management challenges and could result in loss of life, a mine shutdown, damage to or destruction of our properties and surrounding properties, production facilities or equipment, production delays or business interruption. Our insurance coverage may be insufficient to cover all losses or claims associated with our operations, including these operational risks.
Geological conditions could lead to a mine shutdown, increased costs and production delays, which could adversely affect results of our operations.
Our salt mining operations involve complex processes, which are affected by the mineralogy of the mineral deposits and structural geologic conditions and are subject to related risks. For example, unexpected geological conditions could lead to significant water inflows and flooding at any of our underground mines, which could result in a mine shutdown, serious injuries, loss of life, increased operational costs, production delays, damage to our mineral deposits and equipment damage. We have minor water inflows at our Cote Blanche and Goderich salt mines that we actively monitor and manage. Underground mining also poses the potential risk of mine collapse or ceiling collapse (such as the September 2017 partial ceiling collapse at our Goderich mine) because of the mine geology and rate and volume of minerals extracted. We could also have a ceiling collapse in the brine wells used to extract salt for mechanical evaporation, which could increase costs and cause production delays.
Our mineral reserve estimates of the remaining tons of minerals in our mines are based on many factors, including the area and volume covered by our mining rights, assumptions regarding our extraction rates and duration of mining operations, and the quality of in-place reserves. The actual mineral deposits encountered in our mining operations and the economic viability of mining a mineral deposit may differ materially from our estimates. In addition, we may not be able to access certain mineral deposits as a result of the nature of the geologic formations of our salt mines, which could impact the accuracy of our salt deposit reserve projections.
Variations in the mineralogy of our mineral deposits could limit our ability to extract these deposits, increase our extraction costs and impact the purity and suitability of extracted minerals to create products for sale and to meet customer specifications. This could adversely impact our ability to fulfill our contracts, resulting in significant contractual penalties and loss of customers.
Our operations are conducted primarily through a limited number of key production and distribution facilities, and we are also dependent on critical equipment.
We conduct our operations through a limited number of key production and distribution facilities. These facilities include our underground salt mines, our evaporation plants, our solar evaporation ponds and facilities, certain facilities in Brazil used by our Plant Nutrition South America businesses and the distribution facilities, depots and ports owned by us and third parties. Many of our products are produced at one or two of these facilities. Any disruption of operations at one of these facilities could significantly affect production of our products, distribution of our products or our ability to fulfill our contractual obligations, which could damage our customer relationships.
For example, our two North American salt mines together constituted approximately 74% of our salt production capacity as of December 31, 2019 and supply most of the salt sold by our North American highway deicing business and significant portions of the salt sold by our consumer and industrial business. A production interruption at one of our salt mines could adversely affect our ability to fulfill our salt contracts and our ability to secure future contracts in affected markets or other markets. In addition, we only have a limited number of distribution facilities in the markets in which we sell our salt products. Failure to have our salt products at a specific distribution facility when needed (for example during a snow event) could adversely impact our ability to fulfill our highway deicing sales contracts, resulting in significant contractual penalties and loss of customers.
Similarly, many of our plant nutrition products are only produced at one or two facilities. We primarily produce SOP at our solar evaporation ponds and facilities located adjacent to the Great Salt Lake and also produce SOP at our facility near Big Quill Lake. SOP production from these facilities could be disrupted or negatively impacted by structural damage, as a result of dike failure or other factors, which could result in reduced sales and revenue. In addition, in our Plant Nutrition South America business, we use products manufactured at certain of our production facilities as inputs to products manufactured at our other production facilities in Brazil. An interruption at one of our production facilities could result in production disruptions at other facilities in Brazil, as alternative sources for raw materials or other materials might not be available at reasonable prices, on a timely basis, or at all. A production interruption or disruption at one or more of our facilities could result in a loss of customers, a loss in revenue or subject us to fines or penalties.
Our operations depend upon critical equipment, such as our continuous miners, hoists, conveyor belts, bucket elevators, loading equipment, baghouses and dryers. This equipment could be damaged or destroyed, suffer breakdowns or failures or deteriorate due to wear and tear sooner than we estimate, and we may be unable to replace or repair the equipment in a timely manner or at
a reasonable cost. If these events occur, we may incur additional maintenance and capital expenditures, our operations could be materially disrupted and we may not be able to produce and ship our products.
The results of our operations are dependent on and vary due to weather conditions. Additionally, adverse weather conditions or significant changes in weather patterns could adversely affect us.
Weather conditions, including amounts, timing and duration of wintry precipitation and snow events, excessive hot or cold temperatures, rainfall and drought, can significantly impact our sales, production, costs and operational results and impact our customers. From year to year, sales of our deicing products and profitability of the Salt segment may be affected by weather conditions in our markets. Any prolonged change in weather patterns in our markets, as a result of climate change or otherwise, could have a material impact on the results of our operations.
In addition, our ability to produce SOP, salt and magnesium chloride from our solar evaporation ponds located near Ogden, Utah is dependent upon sufficient lake brine levels and hot, arid summer weather conditions. Prolonged periods of precipitation, lack of sunshine, cooler weather or increased mountain water run-off during the evaporation season could reduce mineral concentrations and evaporation rates, leading to decreases in our production levels. Similarly, drought or decreased mountain snowfall and associated fresh water run-off could change brine levels, impacting our mineral harvesting process, amount and timing. Lake level fluctuations and other factors could alter brine levels or mineral concentration levels, which may disrupt our typical two- to three-year evaporation production cycle. Similar factors could negatively impact the lake level and concentration of sulfates at the Big Quill Lake, impacting the production at our Wynyard facility. The occurrence of these events at the Great Salt Lake or Big Quill Lake could lead to decreased production levels, increased operating costs and significant additional capital expenditures.
Weather conditions have historically caused volatility in the agricultural industry (and indirectly in our results of operations) by causing crop failures or significantly reduced harvests, which can adversely affect application rates, demand for our plant nutrition products and our customers’ creditworthiness. Weather conditions can also lead to a reduction in farmable acres, flooding, drought or wild fires, which could also adversely impact growers’ crop yields and the uptake of plant nutrients, reducing the need for application of plant nutrition products for the next planting season which could result in lower demand for our plant nutrition products and impact sale prices.
Strikes, other forms of work stoppage or slowdown and other union activities could disrupt our business and negatively impact our financial results.
Approximately 50% of our workforce in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. and approximately 30% of our global workforce was represented by collective bargaining agreements as of December 31, 2019. Of our 12 collective bargaining agreements in effect on January 1, 2020, four will expire in 2020, two will expire in 2021, five will expire in 2022 and one will expire in 2027. In addition, trade union membership is mandatory in Brazil, where approximately 40% of our global workforce is located.
Unsuccessful contract negotiations, adverse labor relations at any of our locations or other factors could result in strikes, work stoppages, work slowdowns, dissatisfied employees or other actions, which could disrupt our business and operations. These disruptions could negatively impact our business, our operations, our ability to produce or sell our products, our ability to service our customers and our ability to recruit and retain personnel, and could result in significant additional costs as well as adversely affect our reputation, financial condition and operating results. For example, we experienced a strike at our Goderich mine in 2018, which had a negative impact on our business and operations, including higher production costs, higher logistical costs and lost sales.
Our business is capital intensive, and the inability to fund necessary capital expenditures or successfully complete our capital projects could have an adverse effect on our growth and profitability.
In recent years, we have made significant expenditures on large capital projects, including a shaft relining project at our Goderich mine, implementing continuous mining at our Goderich mine and expanding our SOP processing plant at our Utah facility. In addition, maintaining our existing facilities requires significant capital expenditures, which may fluctuate materially. We also may make significant capital expenditures in the future to expand or modify our existing operations, including projects to expand or improve our facilities or equipment and projects to improve our computer systems, information technology and operations technology. These activities or other capital improvement projects may require the temporary suspension of production at our facilities, which could have a material adverse effect on the results of our operations.
Any capital project we undertake involves risks, including cost overruns, delays and performance uncertainties, and could interrupt our ongoing operations. The expected benefits from any of our capital projects may not be realized in accordance with our projections. Our capital projects may also result in other unanticipated adverse consequences, such as the diversion of management’s attention from other operational matters or significant disruptions to our ongoing operations.
Although we currently finance most of our capital expenditures through cash provided by operations, we also may depend on increased borrowing or other financing arrangements to fund future capital expenditures. If we are unable to obtain suitable financing, we may not be able to complete future capital projects and our ability to maintain or expand our operations may be limited. The occurrence of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our production processes rely on the consumption of natural gas, electricity and certain other raw materials. A significant interruption in the supply or an increase in the price of any of these could adversely affect our business.
Energy costs, primarily natural gas and electricity, represent a substantial part of our total production costs. Our profitability is impacted by the price and availability of natural gas and electricity we purchase from third parties. Natural gas is a primary energy source used in the mechanically evaporated salt production process. Our contractual arrangements for the supply of natural gas have terms of up to three years, do not specify quantities and are automatically renewed unless either party elects not to do so. In addition, electricity is a primary energy source used by our Plant Nutrition South America businesses, and we have electricity contracts with terms of up to five years and generally do not automatically renew. We do not have arrangements in place with back-up suppliers. We use natural gas derivatives to hedge some of our financial exposure to the price volatility of natural gas. A significant increase in the price of energy that is not recovered through an increase in the price of our products or covered through our hedging arrangements, or an extended interruption in the supply of natural gas or electricity to our production facilities, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We use KCl in our salt and plant nutrition operations. Large price fluctuations in KCl can occur without a corresponding change in the sales price of our products sold to our customers. This could change the profitability of our products that require KCl, which could materially affect the results of our operations.
Our indebtedness and any inability to pay our indebtedness could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
We have a significant amount of indebtedness and may incur additional debt in the future. As of December 31, 2019, we had $1.43 billion of outstanding indebtedness, including $560.0 million of borrowings under our senior secured credit facilities, which are further described in Note 10 of our Consolidated Financial Statements. We pay significant interest on our indebtedness, with variable interest on our borrowing under our senior secured credit facilities based on prevailing interest rates. Significant increases in interest rates will increase the interest we pay on our debt. Our indebtedness could:
require us to agree to less favorable terms, including higher interest rates, in order to incur additional debt, and otherwise limit our ability to borrow additional money or sell our stock to fund our working capital, capital expenditures and debt service requirements;
impact our ability to implement our business strategy and limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business as well as changes to economic, regulatory or other competitive conditions;
place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors with greater financial resources;
make us more vulnerable to a downturn in our business or the economy;
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to the repayment of our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow for other purposes;
restrict us from making strategic acquisitions or cause us to make non-strategic divestures; and
materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition if we are unable to meet our debt service requirements or obtain additional financing.
In the future, we may incur additional indebtedness or refinance our existing indebtedness. If we incur additional indebtedness or refinance, the risks that we face as a result of our leverage could increase. Financing may not be available when needed or, if available, may not be available on commercially reasonable or satisfactory terms. Any downgrades from credit rating agencies such as Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s may adversely impact our ability to obtain financing or the terms of such financing.
Our ability to make payments on our indebtedness, refinance our indebtedness and fund planned capital expenditures will depend on our ability to generate future cash flows from operations. This, to a certain extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control. There can be no assurance that our business will generate sufficient cash flows from operations or that future borrowings will be available to us under our revolving credit facility in an amount sufficient to enable us to make payments with respect to our indebtedness or to fund our other liquidity needs. If this were the case, we might need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness on or before maturity, sell assets, reduce or delay capital expenditures or seek additional equity financing. Our inability to obtain needed financing or generate sufficient cash flows from operations may require us to abandon or curtail capital projects, strategic initiatives or other investments, cause us to divest our business or impair our ability to make acquisitions, enter into joint ventures or engage in other activities, which could materially impact our business.
The agreements governing our indebtedness impose restrictions that may limit our ability to operate our business or require accelerated debt payments.
Our agreements governing our indebtedness contain covenants that limit our ability to:
incur additional indebtedness or contingent obligations or grant liens;
pay dividends or make distributions to our stockholders;
prepay, or amend the terms of, certain junior indebtedness;
engage in sale and leaseback transactions;
make changes to our organizational documents or fiscal periods;
create or permit certain liens on our assets;
create or permit restrictions on the ability of certain subsidiaries to make certain intercompany dividends, investments or asset transfers;
enter into new lines of business;
enter into transactions with our stockholders and affiliates; and
acquire the assets of, or merge or consolidate with, other companies.
The credit agreement governing our senior secured credit facilities also requires us to maintain financial ratios, including an interest coverage ratio and a total leverage ratio, which we may be unable to maintain. As of December 31, 2019, our total leverage ratio (as calculated under the terms of our credit agreement) was 4.1x, and if our leverage ratio exceeds 4.75x, we would be in default under our credit agreement.
Various risks, uncertainties and events beyond our control could affect our ability to comply with the covenants, financial tests and ratios required by the agreements governing our indebtedness. If we default under our agreements governing our indebtedness, our lenders could cease to make further extensions of credit, accelerate payments under our other debt instruments (including hedging instruments) that contain cross-acceleration or cross-default provisions and foreclose upon any collateral securing that debt as well as restrict our ability to make certain investments and payments, pay dividends, repurchase our stock, enter into transactions with affiliates, make acquisitions, merge and consolidate, or transfer or dispose of assets.
If our lenders were to require immediate repayment, we may need to obtain new financing to be able to repay them immediately, which may not be available or, if available, may not be available on commercially reasonable or satisfactory terms. Under these circumstances, we might not have sufficient funds or other resources to satisfy all of our obligations.
We are subject to tax liabilities which could adversely impact our profitability, cash flow and liquidity.
We are subject to income tax in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and U.K. Our effective tax rate could be adversely affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities and the discovery of new information in the course of our tax return preparation process. Our effective tax rate, tax expense and cash flows could also be adversely affected by changes in tax laws. In December 2017, the U.S. enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act,” which is commonly referred to as “U.S. tax reform”). The Act made broad and complex changes to the U.S. tax code. While significant guidance has been issued in the form of Treasury regulations and IRS Notices, it will take time for additional clarifying guidance and legislation to be issued, as well as for those items to be analyzed and their impacts determined. The Act may have a material impact on our financial results due to potential changes in the Act (including with respect to the regulations promulgated under the Act) or changes to its interpretation. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Investments, Liquidity and Capital Resources” and Note 8 to our Consolidated Financial Statements for more details. We are also subject to audits in various jurisdictions and may be assessed additional taxes as a consequence of an audit.
Canadian provincial tax authorities have challenged our tax positions and assessed additional taxes on us, which are described in Note 8 of our Consolidated Financial Statements. These tax assessments and future tax assessments could be material if the disputes are not resolved in our favor.
In the ordinary course of our business, there are many transactions and calculations that could be challenged by taxing authorities. This includes the values charged on the transfer of products between our subsidiaries. Although we believe our tax estimates and calculations are reasonable, they have been challenged by taxing authorities in the past. The final determination of any tax audits and litigation may take several years and be materially different from our historical income tax provisions and accruals in our financial statements. If additional taxes are assessed as a result of an audit, assessment or litigation, there could be a material adverse effect on our financial condition, income tax provision and net income in the affected periods as well as future profitability, cash flows and our ability to pay dividends and service our debt.
We are subject to financial assurance requirements and failure to satisfy these requirements could materially affect our business, results of our operations and our financial condition.
In connection with our dispute of tax assessments made by Canadian provincial tax authorities (described in more detail in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Investments, Liquidity and Capital Resources” and Note 8 of our Consolidated Financial Statements), we are required to post and maintain financial performance bonds. In addition, as part of our business operations, we are required to maintain financial surety or performance bonds with certain of our North American deicing customers and to fund reclamation and site cleanup following the ultimate closure of our mines and certain other facilities. We incur costs to maintain these financial assurance bonds and failure to satisfy these financial assurance requirements could materially affect our business, the results of our operations and our financial condition.
If our customers are unable to access credit, they may be not be able to purchase our products. In addition, we extend trade credit to certain customers and guarantee financing that certain customers use to purchase our products. The results of our operations may be adversely affected if customers default on these obligations.
Some of our customers require access to credit in order to purchase our products. A lack of available credit to customers, due to global or local economic conditions or for other reasons, could adversely affect demand for our products and the sales of our products.
We extend trade credit to our customers in the United States and throughout the world, in some cases for extended periods of time. In Brazil, where there are fewer third-party financing sources available to farmers, we also have several programs under which we guarantee customers’ financing from financial institutions that they use to purchase our products. If these customers are unable to repay the trade credit from us or financing from their financial institutions, the results of our operations could be adversely affected. Our customers may be unable to repay the trade credit from us or financing from their financial institutions as a result of market conditions in the agricultural sector, adverse weather conditions and increases in prices for other inputs that could increase the working capital requirements, indebtedness and other liabilities of our customers. We may not be able to limit our credit and collectability risk or avoid losses.
We may not pay cash dividends or pay smaller cash dividends on our common stock in the future.
We have declared and paid quarterly cash dividends on our common stock consistently since becoming a public company. Any future payment and the amount of any future payment of cash dividends will depend upon our financial condition, earnings, legal requirements, restrictions in our debt agreements and other factors deemed relevant by our Board of Directors. Although our operations are conducted through our subsidiaries, none of our subsidiaries is obligated to make funds available to pay dividends on our common stock. Accordingly, our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders is dependent on the earnings and the distribution of funds from our subsidiaries. Certain agreements governing our indebtedness contain limitations on our ability to pay dividends (including regular annual dividends), as described under “—The agreements governing our indebtedness impose restrictions that may limit our ability to operate our business or require accelerated debt payments.” We cannot provide assurances that the agreements governing our current and future indebtedness will permit us to pay dividends on our common stock.
Competition, Sales and Pricing Risks
Our products face strong competition and if we fail to successfully attract and retain customers and invest in product development, capital improvements, productivity and quality improvements, sales of our products could be adversely affected.
We encounter strong competition in many areas of our business and our competitors may have significantly more financial resources than we do. Competition in our product lines is based on a number of factors, including product quality and performance, logistics (especially in salt distribution and Brazil chlor-alkali products), brand reputation, price and quality of customer service and support. Many of our customers attempt to reduce the number of vendors from which they purchase in order to increase their efficiency. Our customers demand a broad product range and we must continue to develop our expertise in order to manufacture and market these products successfully. To remain competitive, we need to invest in manufacturing, productivity, product innovation, marketing, customer service and support and our distribution networks. We may not have sufficient resources to continue to make such investments or maintain our competitive position. We may have to adjust our prices, strategy, product innovation, distribution or marketing efforts to stay competitive.
The demand for our products may be adversely affected by technological advances or the development of new or less costly competing products. For example, the development of substitutes for our plant nutrition products that can more efficiently mix with other agricultural inputs or have more efficient application methods may impact the demand for our products. Many of our products, including sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and SOP, have historically been characterized by a slow pace of technological advances. However, new production methods or sources for our products or the development of substitute or competing products could materially and adversely affect the demand and sales of our products.
Changes in competitors’ production, geographic or marketing focus could have a material impact on our business. We face global competition from new and existing competitors who have entered or may enter the markets in which we sell, particularly in our plant nutrition business. Some of our competitors may have greater financial and other resources than we do or are more diversified, making them less vulnerable to industry downturns and better positioned to pursue new expansion and development opportunities. Our competitive position could suffer if we are unable to expand our operations through investments in new or existing operations or through acquisitions, joint ventures or partnerships.
Risks associated with our international operations and sales could adversely affect our business and earnings.
We have significant operations in Canada, Brazil and the U.K. Our 2019 sales outside the U.S. were 45% of our total 2019 sales. Our overall success as a global business depends on our ability to operate successfully in differing economic, political and cultural conditions. Our international operations and sales are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including:
economic developments including changes in currency exchange rates, inflation risks, exchange controls, tariffs, other trade protection measures and import or export licensing requirements;
difficulties and costs associated with complying with laws, treaties and regulations, including tax, labor and data privacy laws, treaties and regulations, and changes to laws, treaties and regulations;
restrictions on our ability to own or operate subsidiaries, make investments or acquire new businesses;
restrictions on our ability to repatriate earnings from our non-U.S. subsidiaries to the U.S. or the imposition of withholding taxes on remittances and other payments by our subsidiaries;
political developments, government deadlock, political instability, political activism, terrorist activities, civil unrest and international conflicts; and
uncertain and varying enforcement of laws and regulations and weak protection of intellectual property rights.
A significant portion of our cash flow is generated in Canadian dollars, Brazilian reais and British pounds sterling and our consolidated financial results are reported in U.S. dollars. Our reported results can significantly increase or decrease based on exchange rate volatility after translation of our results into U.S. dollars. Exchange rate fluctuations could also impact our ability to meet interest and principal payments on our U.S. dollar-denominated debt. In addition, we incur currency transaction risk when we enter into a purchase or a sales transaction using a currency other than the local currency of the transacting entity. We may not be able to effectively manage our currency risks. For more information, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Effects of Currency Fluctuations and Inflation,” and “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.”
In addition, we may face more competition in periods when foreign currency exchange rates are favorable to our competitors. A relatively strong U.S. dollar increases the attractiveness of the U.S. market for some of our international competitors while decreasing the attractiveness of other markets to us. Similarly, a relatively strong Brazilian real increases the attractiveness of the Brazil market for our international competitors.
On January 31, 2020, the U.K. formally left the EU (commonly referred to as “Brexit”). There is a transition period through December 31, 2020 to allow the U.K. and EU to negotiate the terms of the U.K.’s withdrawal. There remains continued uncertainty surrounding the future relationship between the U.K. and EU. The withdrawal of the U.K. from the EU could impact trade agreements and cross-border commerce as well as cause volatility in global stock markets, currency exchange rate fluctuations and increased regulatory complexities. These changes may adversely affect the results of our operations.
Anticipated changes in plant nutrition prices and customer application rates can have a significant effect on the demand and price for our plant nutrition products.
When customers anticipate increasing plant nutrition selling prices, they tend to accumulate inventories in advance of the expected price increase. Similarly, customers tend to delay their purchases when they anticipate future selling prices for plant nutrition products will stabilize or decrease. These customer expectations can lead to a lag in our ability to realize price increases for our products and adversely impact our sales volumes and selling prices.
Growers’ decisions to purchase plant nutrition products and the application rate for plant nutrition products depend on many factors, including expected grower income, crop prices, plant nutrition product prices, commodity prices, input prices and nutrient levels in the soil. Customers are more likely to decrease purchases and application rates when they expect declining agricultural economics or relatively high plant nutrition costs, other costs and soil nutrient levels. This variability can materially impact our prices and volumes sold.
Conditions in the agricultural sector and supply and demand imbalances for competing plant nutrition products can impact the price and demand for our products.
Conditions in the North American and Brazilian agricultural sectors can significantly impact both of our plant nutrition businesses. The North America and Brazil agricultural sector can be affected by a number of factors, including weather conditions, field conditions (particularly during periods of traditionally high plant nutrition application), government policies, tariffs and import and export markets.
Demand for our products in the agricultural sector is affected by crop prices, crop selection, planted acreage, application rates, crop yields, product acceptance, population growth, livestock consumption and changes in dietary habits, among other things. Supply is affected by available capacity, operating rates, raw material costs and availability, feasible transportation, government policies, tariffs and global trade. In addition, the demand and price of plant nutrition products can be affected by factors such as plant disease. For example, Asian soybean rust and African swine flu has in certain years affected soybean and other crops in Brazil and the United States, reducing demand for plant nutrition products.
MOP is the least expensive form of potash fertilizer and, consequently, it is the most widely used potassium source for most crops. SOP is utilized by growers for many high-value crops, especially crops for which low-chloride content fertilizers or the presence of sulfur improves quality and yield, such as almonds and other tree nuts, avocados, citrus, lettuce, tobacco, grapes, strawberries and other berries. Lower prices or demand for these crops could adversely affect demand for our products and the results of our operations.
When the demand and price of potash are high, our competitors are more likely to increase their production and invest in increased production capacity. An over-supply of MOP or SOP domestically or worldwide could unfavorably impact the prices we can charge for our SOP, as a large price disparity between potash products could cause growers to choose MOP or other less-expensive alternatives, which could adversely impact our sales volume and the results of our operations.
Increasing costs or a lack of availability of transportation services could have an adverse effect on our ability to deliver products at competitive prices.
Transportation and handling costs are a significant component of our total delivered product cost, particularly for our salt products. The high relative cost of transportation favors producers whose mines or facilities are located near the customers they serve. We contract bulk shipping vessels, barges, trucking and rail services to move our products from our production facilities to distribution outlets and customers. A reduction in the dependability or availability of transportation services, a significant increase in transportation service rates, adverse weather and changes to water levels on the waterways we use could impair our ability to deliver our products economically to our customers or expand our markets. For example, when the Mississippi river floods significantly (as it did during the second quarter of 2019), barges may be unable to traverse the river system and we may be prevented from timely delivering our salt products to our customers, which could increase costs to deliver our products and adversely impact our ability to fulfill our contracts, resulting in significant contractual penalties and loss of customers.
In addition, diesel fuel is a significant component of our transportation costs. Some of our customer contracts allow for full or partial recovery of changes in diesel fuel costs through an adjustment to the selling price. However, a significant increase in the price of diesel fuel that is not passed through to our customers could materially increase our costs and adversely affect our financial results.
Significant transportation costs relative to the cost of certain of our products, including our salt products and certain products sold by our Plant Nutrition South America segment, limit our ability to increase our market share or serve new markets.
The demand for our products is seasonal.
The demand for our salt and plant nutrition products is seasonal, and the degree of seasonality can change significantly from year to year due to weather conditions, including the number of snow events, rainfall and other factors.
Our salt deicing business is seasonal. On average, in each of the last three years, approximately two-thirds of our deicing product sales occurred during the North American and European winter months of November through March. Winter weather events are not predictable, yet we must stand ready to deliver deicing products to local communities with little advance notice under the requirements of our highway deicing contracts. As a result, we attempt to stockpile our highway deicing salt throughout the year to meet estimated demand for the winter season. Failure to deliver under our highway deicing contracts may result in significant contractual penalties and loss of customers. Servicing markets typically serviced by one production facility with product from an alternative facility may add logistics and other costs and reduce profitability.
Our plant nutrition business is also seasonal. For example, the strongest demand for our plant nutrition products in Brazil typically occurs during the spring planting season. As a result, we and our customers generally build inventories during the low demand periods of the year to ensure timely product availability during the peak sales season. The seasonality of this demand results in our sales volumes and net sales for our Plant Nutrition South America segment usually being the highest during the third and fourth quarters of each year (as the spring planting season begins in September in Brazil).
If seasonal demand is greater than we expect, we may experience increased costs and product shortages, and our customers may turn to our competitors for products that they would otherwise have purchased from us. If seasonal demand is less than we expect, we may have excess inventory to be stored (in which case we may incur increased storage costs) or liquidated (in which case the selling price may be below our costs). If prices for our products rapidly decrease, we may be subject to inventory write-downs. Our inventories may also become impaired through obsolescence or the quality may be impaired if our inventories are not stored properly. Low seasonal demand could also lead to increased unit costs.
Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Risks
Our operations depend on our rights and governmental authorizations to mine and operate our properties.
We hold numerous environmental and mineral extraction permits, water rights and other permits, licenses and approvals from governmental authorities authorizing operations at each of our facilities. A decision by a governmental agency to revoke, substantially modify, deny or delay renewal of or apply conditions to an existing permit, license or approval could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue operations at the affected facility and result in significant costs. For example, certain indigenous groups have challenged the Canadian government’s ownership of the land under which our Goderich mine is operated. There can be no assurances that the Canadian government’s ownership will be upheld or that our existing mining and operating permits will not be revoked or otherwise affected. In addition, although we do not engage in fracking, laws and regulations targeting fracking could lead to increased permit requirements and compliance costs for non-fracking operations, including our salt operations, which require permitted wastewater disposal wells.
Furthermore, many of our facilities are located on land leased from governmental authorities or third parties. Our leases generally require us to continue mining in order to retain the lease, the loss of which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue operations at the affected facility and result in significant costs. In some instances, we have received access rights or easements from third parties which allow for a more efficient operation than would exist without the access or easement. Loss of these access rights or easements could have a material adverse effect on us. In addition, many of our facilities are located near existing and proposed third-party industrial operations that could affect our ability to fully extract, or the manner in which we
extract, the mineral deposits to which we have mining rights. For example, certain neighboring operations or land uses may require setbacks that could prevent us from mining portions of our mineral reserves or using certain mining methods.
Expansion of our operations or production capacity, or preservation of existing rights in some cases, is also predicated upon securing any necessary permits, licenses and approvals. For example, we may require additional permits, licenses and approvals to continue diverting water from the Great Salt Lake based on lake conditions or to further expand our production capacity at our SOP facility located near the Great Salt Lake. We may not be granted the necessary permits, licenses and approvals. A decision by a governmental agency to deny, delay issuing or apply conditions to any new permits, licenses and approvals could adversely affect our ability to operate and the results of our operations.
Compliance with import and export requirements, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) and other applicable anti-corruption laws may increase the cost of doing business.
Our operations outside the United States, as well as the shipment of any products across international borders, require us to comply with a number of United States and international regulations, which are complex and increase our cost of doing business. These laws and regulations include import and export requirements, customs laws and anti-corruption laws, such as the FCPA, the Brazilian Clean Companies Act and the U.K. Bribery Act. We cannot predict how these laws or their interpretation, administration and enforcement will change over time. There can be no assurance that our employees, contractors, agents, distributors or customers will not take actions in violation of these laws. Any violations of these laws could subject us to civil or criminal penalties, including fines or prohibitions on our ability to offer our products in one or more countries, debarment from government contracts (and termination of existing contracts) and could also materially damage our reputation, brand, international expansion efforts, business and operating results. In addition, changes to trade or anti-corruption laws and regulations could affect our operating practices or impose liability on us in a manner that could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to EHS laws and regulations which could become more stringent and adversely affect our business.
Our operations are subject to an evolving set of international, national, federal, foreign, state, provincial and local EHS laws and regulations. New or proposed EHS regulatory programs, as well as future interpretations and enforcement of existing EHS laws and regulations, may require modification to our facilities, require substantial increases in equipment and operating costs, subject us to fines, penalties or lead to interruptions, modifications or a termination of operations, which could involve significant capital costs, increases in operating costs or other significant impacts.
For example, governmental initiatives to limit greenhouse gas emissions under consideration and future initiatives could, if adopted, restrict our operations and require us to make capital expenditures to be compliant with these initiatives. We are also impacted by the Clean Air Act and other EHS laws and regulations that regulate air emissions. These regulatory programs may subject us to fines or penalties or require us to install expensive emissions abatement equipment, modify our operational practices, obtain additional permits or make other expenditures. Our Utah facility is located in an area expected to be of continued scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency and Utah Air Quality Board with respect to certain air emissions and related issues under the Clean Air Act.
In addition, if new Clean Water Act regulations are adopted or increased compliance obligations are imposed on existing regulations, we could be adversely affected. For example, a significant portion of our salt products are distributed through salt depots owned and operated by third parties. If these depots are required to adopt more stringent stormwater management practices or are subject to increased compliance requirements under existing Clean Water Act regulations, these depots may pass on any increased costs to us, exit the depot business (requiring us to find new depot partners or establish Company-owned depots) or otherwise cause an adverse impact to our ability to deliver salt to our customers. Additionally, governmental agencies could restrict the use of road salt for highway deicing purposes. See “Business—Environmental, Health and Safety Matters” for more information about EHS laws and regulations affecting us and their potential impact on us.
We could incur significant environmental liabilities with respect to our current, future or former facilities, adjacent or nearby third-party facilities or off-site disposal locations.
Risks of environmental liabilities is inherent in our current and former operations. At many of our past and present facilities, releases and disposals of regulated substances have occurred and could occur in the future, which could require us to investigate, undertake or pay for remediation activities under CERCLA and other similar EHS laws and regulations. The use, handling, disposal and remediation of hazardous substances currently or formerly used by us, or the liabilities arising from past releases of, or exposure to, hazardous substances may result in future expenditures that could materially and adversely affect our financial results, cash flows or financial condition. Our facilities are also subject to laws and regulations which require us to monitor and detect potential environmental hazards and damages. Our procedures and controls may not be sufficient to timely identify and protect against potential environmental damages and related costs.
We record accruals for contingent environmental liabilities when we believe it is probable that we will be responsible, in whole or in part, for environmental investigation or remediation activities and the expenditures for these activities are reasonably estimable. For example, we have ongoing investigation and remediation activities at our property located in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which are described in “Business—Environmental, Health and Safety Matters” and Note 12 of our Consolidated Financial Statements.
However, the extent and costs of any environmental investigation or remediation activities are inherently uncertain and difficult to estimate and could exceed our expectations, which could materially affect our financial condition and operating results.
Additionally, we previously sold a portion of our U.K. salt mine to a third party, which operates a waste management business. The third party’s business, under governmental permits, is allowed to securely dispose certain hazardous waste at the property they own and they pay us fees for engaging in this activity. We also operate a mercury cell facility at our Igarassu facility. We could incur future expenditures to address risks related to this hazardous waste disposal and mercury use or to remediate any contamination. See “Business—Environmental, Health and Safety Matters” for more information.
Our intellectual property may be misappropriated or subject to claims of infringement.
Intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks, and trade secrets, are a valuable aspect of our business. We attempt to protect our intellectual property rights primarily through a combination of patent, trademark, and trade secret protection. The patent rights that we obtain may not provide meaningful protection to prevent others from selling competitive products or using similar production processes. Pending patent applications may not result in an issued patent. If we do receive an issued patent, we cannot guarantee that our patent rights will not be challenged, invalidated, circumvented, or rendered unenforceable.
We also rely on trade secret protection to guard confidential unpatented technology, manufacturing expertise, and technological innovation. Although we generally enter into confidentiality agreements with our employees, third-party consultants and advisors to protect our trade secrets, we cannot guarantee that these agreements provide meaningful protection or that adequate remedies will be available in the event of an unauthorized use or disclosure of our trade secrets.
Our brand names and the goodwill associated therewith are an important part of our business. We seek to register our brand names as trademarks where it makes business sense. Our trademark registrations may not prevent our competitors from using similar brand names. Many of our brand names are registered as trademarks in the U.S. and foreign countries. The laws in certain foreign countries in which we do business do not protect trademark rights to the same extent as U.S. law. As a result, these factors could weaken our competitive advantage with respect to our products, services and brands in foreign jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our financial performance.
Our intellectual property rights may not be upheld if challenged. Such claims, if proven, could materially and adversely affect our business and may lead to the impairment of the amounts recorded for goodwill and other intangible assets. If we are unable to maintain the proprietary nature of our technologies, we may lose any competitive advantage provided by our intellectual property. In addition, although any such claims may ultimately prove to be without merit, the necessary management attention to and legal costs associated with defending our intellectual property rights could be significant.
We may face significant product liability claims and product recalls, which could harm our business and reputation.
We face exposure to product liability and other claims if our products cause harm, are alleged to have caused harm or have the potential to cause harm to consumers. In addition, our products or products manufactured by our customers using our products could be subject to a product recall as a result of product contamination, our failure to meet product specifications or other causes. For example, our customers use our food-grade salt products in food items they produce, such as cheese and bread, which could be subject to a product recall if our products are contaminated or adulterated. Similarly, the use and application of our animal feed and plant nutrition products could result in a product recall if it were alleged that they were contaminated. Additionally, our production and sale of water treatment chemicals and other chemical solutions products could result in contaminants entering waterways and the public water system, leading to significant liabilities and costs.
A product recall could result in significant losses due to the costs of a recall, the destruction of product inventory and production delays to identify the underlying cause of the recall. We could be held liable for costs related to our customers’ product recall if our products cause the recall or other product liability claims if our products cause harm to our customers. Additionally, a significant product liability case, product recall or failure to meet product specifications could result in adverse publicity, harm to our brand and reputation and significant costs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial performance.
We may be negatively impacted if we are unable to obtain required product registrations or if we face increased regulatory requirements.
Globally, there are directives, laws and regulations that require registration of our products before they can be sold, impose labelling requirements and require our products to be manufactured to certain specifications. Each country, state and province appoints regulatory agencies responsible for these requirements, and many of our products must be registered with these regulatory agencies. A decision to deny the registration of a new product or to delay, revoke or modify an existing product registration may have a material adverse effect on us and could impede our ability to implement our business strategies. In addition, regulatory and labeling requirements could increase, which could require increased expenditures. For example, many regulatory agencies continue to evaluate potential health and environmental impacts that could arise from the handling and use of new and existing plant nutrition products. These evaluations or other developments could result in additional regulatory requirements for plant nutrition producers, including us, or for our customers, and could negatively impact the demand for our products.
We are subject to costs and risk associated with a complex regulatory, compliance and legal environment, and we may be adversely affected by changes in laws, industry standards and regulatory requirements.
Our global business is subject to complex requirements of federal, state, local and foreign laws, regulations and regulatory authorities as well as industry standard-setting authorities. Changes in the standards and requirements imposed by these laws, regulations and authorities or adoption of any new laws or regulations could negatively affect our ability to serve our customers or our business. In the event that we are unable to meet any new or modified standards when adopted, our business could be adversely affected. Some of the federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations that affect us include those relating to EHS matters; taxes; antitrust and anti-competition laws; data protection and privacy; advertisement and marketing; labor and employment; import, export and anti-corruption; product liability; product registrations; and intellectual property
For example, if significant import duties were imposed on the salt we import into the U.S. from our Goderich mine, or if we were unable to include the transfer price of such salt in the cost of goods sold for tax purposes, our financial condition and operating results would be materially and adversely affected. We could also be adversely impacted by changes in tariffs imposed by countries or other trade protection measures, which could decrease our sales in markets where we sell our products. In addition, failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations or to comply with any of contracts we have with governmental entities could preclude us from conducting business with governmental entities and lead to penalties, injunctions, civil remedies or fines.
Strategic and General Business Risks
We may not successfully implement our strategies.
Our success depends, to a significant extent, on successful implementation of our business strategies, including our strategic priorities, our cost savings initiatives, our enterprise optimization initiatives and the other strategies described in the “Business” section of this report. We cannot assure that we will be able to successfully implement our strategies or, if successfully implemented, we may not realize the expected benefits of our strategies.
We cannot predict the outcome of the strategic evaluation of the Plant Nutrition South America business that we announced on February 10, 2020. There can be no assurance that this strategic evaluation will result in the identification or consummation of any transaction. The strategic evaluation may be time consuming and disruptive to our business operations, we may incur substantial expenses in connection with the evaluation and if we are unable to effectively manage the process, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected. We also cannot assure that any potential transaction or other strategic alternative, if identified, evaluated and consummated, will provide greater value to our stockholders than that reflected in our current stock price. Any potential transaction or other strategic alternative would be dependent upon a number of factors that may be beyond our control, including, among other factors, market conditions, industry trends, the interest of third parties in the Plant Nutrition South America business and the availability of financing to potential buyers on reasonable terms.
Although we make substantial investments in product innovation, we cannot be certain that we will be able to develop, obtain or successfully implement new products or technologies on a timely basis or that they will be well-received by our customers. Moreover, our investments in new products and technologies involve certain risks and uncertainties and could disrupt our ongoing business. New investments may not generate sufficient revenue, may incur unanticipated liabilities and may divert our limited resources and distract management from our current operations. We cannot be certain that our ongoing investments in new products and technologies will be successful, will meet our expectations and will not adversely affect our reputation, financial condition and operating results.
Our business is dependent upon highly skilled personnel, and the loss of key personnel may have a material adverse effect on our performance.
Our business is dependent on our ability to attract, develop and retain highly skilled personnel. We may not be able to attract, develop and retain the personnel necessary for the efficient operation of our business, and our inability to do so could result in decreased productivity and efficiency, higher costs, the use of less-qualified personnel and reputational harm, which may have a material adverse effect on our performance.
To help attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel, we use stock-based incentive awards such as employee stock options, restricted stock units and performance stock units. If the value of these stock awards does not appreciate as measured by our common stock price, performance conditions in these awards are not met or if our stock-based compensation otherwise ceases to be viewed as a valuable benefit, our ability to attract, retain and motivate personnel could be weakened, which could harm our business.
The loss of certain key employees could damage critical customer relationships, result in the loss of vital institutional knowledge, experience and expertise, and impact our ability to successfully operate our business and execute our business strategy. We may not be able to find qualified replacements for these key positions and the integration of replacements may be disruptive to our business. In addition, the loss of our key employees who have in-depth knowledge of our research and development, mining, manufacturing or engineering processes could lead to increased competition to the extent that those employees are hired by a competitor and are able to recreate our processes or share our confidential information.
If our computer systems, information technology or operations technology are compromised, our ability to conduct our business will be adversely impacted.
We rely on computer systems, information technology and operations technology to conduct our business, including cash management, order entry, invoicing, plant operations, vendor payments, employee salaries and recordkeeping, inventory and asset management, shipping of products, and communication with employees and customers. We also use our systems to analyze and communicate our operating results and other data to internal and external recipients. We continue to make updates and improvements to our enterprise resource planning system, network and other core applications, which could impact substantially all of our key processes. Any implementation issues could have adverse effects on our ability to properly capture, process and report financial transactions, distribute our products, invoice and collect from our customers and pay our vendors and could lead to increased expenditures or operational disruptions.
We are susceptible to cyber-attacks, computer viruses and other technological disruptions, which generally continue to increase due to evolving threats and our expanding information technology footprint. We have experienced attempts by unauthorized agents to gain access to our computer systems through the internet, e-mail and other access points. To date, none have resulted in any material adverse impact to our business or operations. While we have programs, policies and procedures in place to identify, prevent and detect any unauthorized access, this does not guarantee that we will be able to detect or prevent unauthorized access to our computer systems. A material failure or interruption of access to our computer systems for an extended period of time or the loss of confidential or proprietary data could adversely affect our operations, reputation and regulatory compliance. While we have mitigation and data recovery plans in place, it is possible that significant expenditures, capital investments and time may be required to correct any of these issues. Additional capital investment and expenditures needed to address, prevent, correct or respond to any of these issues may negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may not be able to expand our business through acquisitions, and acquisitions may not perform as expected. We may not successfully integrate acquired businesses and anticipated benefits may not be realized.
Our business strategy includes supplementing organic growth with acquisitions of complementary businesses. We may not have acquisition opportunities because we may not identify suitable businesses to acquire, we compete with other potential buyers, we may not have or be able to obtain suitable financing for an acquisition and we may be hindered by competition and regulatory laws. If we cannot make acquisitions, our business growth may be limited.
Acquisitions of new businesses may not perform as expected, may not positively impact our financial performance and could increase our debt obligations. Acquisitions involve significant risks and uncertainties, including diversion of management attention, greater than expected liabilities and expenses, inadequate return of capital and unidentified issues not discovered in our due diligence.
The success of any acquisition will also depend on our ability to successfully combine and integrate the acquired business. We may fail to integrate acquired businesses in a timely and efficient manner. The integration process could result in the loss of key employees, higher than expected costs, ongoing diversion of management attention from other strategic opportunities or operational matters, the disruption of our ongoing businesses or increased risk that our internal controls are found to be ineffective.
Future climate change could adversely affect us.
The potential impact of climate change on our operations, product demand and the needs of our customers remains uncertain. Scientists have proposed that the impacts of climate change could include changes in rainfall patterns, water shortages, changing sea levels, changing storm patterns and intensities and changing temperature levels. These changes could be severe and vary by geographic location. These changes could negatively impact customer demand for our products and our costs and ability to produce our products. For example, prolonged period of mild winter weather could reduce the market for deicing products. Drought conditions could similarly impact demand for our plant nutrition products. In addition, potential climate change regulations or other carbon or emissions taxes could result in higher costs. Our inability to timely respond to the risks posed by climate change could have a material impact on us.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
Information regarding our plants and properties is included in the “Business” section of this report.
We are involved in the legal proceedings described in Note 8 and Note 12 to our Consolidated Financial Statements and, from time to time, various routine legal proceedings and claims arising from the ordinary course of our business. These primarily involve tax assessments, disputes with former employees and contract labor, commercial claims, product liability claims, personal injury
claims and workers’ compensation claims. Management cannot predict the outcome of legal proceedings and claims with certainty. Nevertheless, management believes that the outcome of legal proceedings and claims, which are pending or known to be threatened, even if determined adversely, will not, either individually or in the aggregate, have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, cash flows or financial condition.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Information concerning mine safety violations or other regulatory matters required by Section 1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and Item 104 of Regulation S-K is included in Exhibit 95 to this report.
Information about our Executive Officers
Below is information about each person who was or is an executive officer as of December 31, 2019 and as of the date of the filing of this report. The table sets forth each person’s name, position and age as of the date of the filing of this report.
Kevin S. Crutchfield
President and Chief Executive Officer and Director
James D. Standen
Chief Financial Officer
Mary L. Frontczak
Chief Legal and Administrative Officer and Corporate Secretary
S. Bradley Griffith
Chief Commercial Officer
George J. Schuller
Chief Operations Officer
Angela Y. Jones
Former Chief People Officer
Kevin S. Crutchfield, President and Chief Executive Officer and Director, joined Compass Minerals and assumed his current position in May 2019. Mr. Crutchfield also serves as member of our Board of Directors. Prior to joining Compass Minerals, Mr. Crutchfield served as CEO and member of the board of directors of Contura Energy, Inc., a publicly traded, leading coal supplier, since the company’s inception in 2016. Previously, he served as CEO from 2009 to 2016 and chairman from 2012 to 2016 of Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., a coal producer. From 2003 to 2009, he held roles of increasing responsibility at Alpha Natural Resources. Prior to Alpha Natural Resources, Mr. Crutchfield spent over 15 years working at El Paso Corporation, a natural gas and energy provider, as well as other coal and gas producers. He also served on the Board of Directors of Couer Mining Inc. from 2013 to 2019.
James D. Standen, Chief Financial Officer, joined Compass Minerals in April 2006 and assumed his current position in August 2017. Prior to this position, Mr. Standen served as the Company’s Interim Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer starting in April 2017. He also served as the Company’s Vice President, Finance and Treasurer from October 2016 to April 2017, as Treasurer from July 2011 to October 2016 and as Assistant Treasurer from April 2006 to June 2011. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Standen spent six years at Kansas City Southern in various finance roles after spending two years with the public accounting firm Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C.
Mary L. Frontczak, Chief Legal and Administrative Officer and Corporate Secretary, joined Compass Minerals in November 2019 and assumed her current position in February 2020. Prior to current role, she served as the Company’s Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary. Before joining Compass Minerals, Ms. Frontczak had served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of POET LLC, an ethanol and other biorefined products producer, since 2017. Prior to POET, she headed the legal department at Bunge North America, an agribusiness and food ingredient company, from 2015 to 2017 and held roles of increasing responsibility at Peabody Energy Corporation, the world’s largest private sector coal company, from 2005 to 2015 and The May Department Store Company from 1996 to 2005. Her experience also includes five years in private practice.
S. Bradley Griffith, Chief Commercial Officer, joined Compass Minerals in August 2016 and assumed his current position in July 2019. Prior to this position, Mr. Griffith served as the Company’s Senior Vice President, Plant Nutrition from August 2016 to July 2019. Before joining Compass Minerals, Mr. Griffith spent eight years working at Monsanto Company, a global provider of agricultural products. While at Monsanto, he held various positions, including Vice President, Global Strategic Accounts, Vice President, Global Microbials and Vice President, Western Business Unit (USA Row Crops). Prior to Monsanto, Mr. Griffith held a number of pharmaceutical and medical sales roles, most recently at Sanofi.
George J. Schuller, Chief Operations Officer,joined Compass Minerals and assumed his current position in September 2019. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Schuller spent more than three decades working at Peabody Energy Corporation, the world’s largest private sector coal company. While at Peabody Energy, he served both surface and underground mining operations in the United States and Australia, most recently serving as President-Australia from 2017 to 2019 and Chief Operating Officer-Australia
from 2013 to 2017. Prior to those positions, Mr. Schuller served in roles of increasing responsibility at Peabody Energy, gaining experience in continuous improvement and technical services in the areas of health, safety, operations, sales and marketing, product delivery and support functions.
Angela Y. Jones,Former Chief People Officer, departed Compass Minerals in February 2020. She joined Compass Minerals in January 2018 and assumed the role of Chief People Officer in November 2019. Prior to serving as Chief People Officer, Ms. Jones served as the Company’s Senior Vice President, People and Culture from September 2018 to November 2019 and, prior to this position, as Vice President, Human Resources. Prior to joining the Company, Ms. Jones, served as Vice President, Human Resources at both Rembrandt Enterprises from 2016 to 2018 and at ConAgra Brands, Inc. from 2007 to 2016. Prior to ConAgra Brands, Ms. Jones gained significant operations experience, with roles such as Director of Operations and Plant General Manager for The Clorox Company as well as progressively responsible supply chain and operations roles with Proctor & Gamble.
MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
COMMON STOCK DATA
Our common stock, $0.01 par value, trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CMP.
On February 25, 2020, the number of holders of record of our common stock was 149.
We intend to pay quarterly cash dividends on our common stock. The declaration and payment of future dividends to holders of our common stock will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend upon many factors, including our financial condition, earnings, legal requirements, restrictions in our debt agreements and other factors our Board of Directors deems relevant.
The information included in the following table should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying Notes thereto included elsewhere in this report.