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UPDATE 1-K+S sees significant rise in 2019 earnings on rising potash production


* Expects 2019 EBITDA in range of 700-850 mln EUR

Free cash flow to turn positive for first time since 2013

* Cuts dividend to 0.25 euros per share (Adds details)

BERLIN, March 14 (Reuters) - German minerals miner K+S forecast core profit to rise significantly this year, helped by favorable demand for fertilizers and rising potash volumes after a severe drought in Germany halted production at its main mine last year.

The company said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were likely to come in between 700 million and 850 million euros ($792 million-$962 million) in 2019, versus 606 million euros last year.

It also expected its free cash flow to turn positive this year for the first time since 2013 as cost cuts start to bear fruit.

"I see many positive signals for 2019 and am optimistic as a result," Chief Executive Burkhard Lohr said in a statement.

K+S was hit by a severe drought in Germany last year that led to production stoppages at its biggest site on the Werra river and pushed up freight costs. This offset higher sales volumes and prices for potassium and magnesium products.

The company has increased its storage capacity for saline wastewater in the Werra area and said it does not expect stoppages to recur this year.

Fourth-quarter EBITDA rose 22 percent to 228 million euros, versus an average 207 million euros forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll, while sales increased 18 percent to 1.2 billion euros, also ahead of consensus.

The company proposed a cut in its dividend to 0.25 euros per shares, versus 0.35 euros a year earlier, as adjusted group earnings after taxes fell in 2018 due to higher interest expenses and depreciation at its Bethune mine in Canada. ($1 = 0.8838 euros) (Reporting by Caroline Copley Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Richard Pullin)