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Leader-Post staff June 22, 2010

REGINA — A rebound in the potash sector, combined with strength in energy and still-strong population trends, will fuel 4.2-per-cent economic growth in Saskatchewan this year — the strongest in Canada, BMO said Tuesday in its latest provincial forecast.

Last year, Saskatchewan's economy contracted by 6.3 per cent due to a steep decline in potash production, as sales to China, the European Union and the U.S. fell sharply.

However, sales have bounced back in 2010 and output was up 75 per cent year over year in the first quarter, as Canpotex — the offshore marketing agency for Saskatchewan potash producers — was exporting at maximum capacity.

Meantime, the oil and gas sector, particularly the Bakken play in southeastern Saskatchewan, continues to attract investment dollars. The province netted $190 million in land sales in April, well above the $11.7 million fetched in the prior year sale, when commodity prices were much lower.

The province has also moved to lower royalties, including a three-year break on horizontal natural gas wells.

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