Sinkhole at Potash Mine Not Expanding

The sinkhole threatening the main rail link for the country's largest potash miner, Silvinit, has stopped expanding, the head of the institute monitoring the hole said Friday.

"In the entire month of July we saw only 3 meters of growth, so in effect it has stopped growing," said Stanislav Nakonechny, the acting director of the Gallurgia Institute, which studies mineral salt deposits in the Ural Mountains.

"As of today, the situation can in no way get worse," Nakonechny said.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry on Tuesday failed to approve the construction of a new rail link to replace the line that is currently under threat, saying they first needed to hear from experts on how fast the hole is growing.

If it expands another 25 meters toward the rail link, Silvinit, which accounts for 10 percent of global potash supply, will see its main transport route closed down by safety officials.

The last time the link was broken, the disruption to supplies caused potash prices to rocket to record highs.