BHP quietly increasing its North American presence

The "global Australian" mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP)  has established an office in New York, increasing its traditionally low North American profile.

Over the last two years, BHP has forged ahead in the United States and Canada, dropping $20 billion on the US shale gas boom, and another $2.6 billion on the Jansen potash project in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

In 2011, BHP spent nearly $17 billion buying Petrohawk Energy and Chesapeake Energy with the aim of doubling petroleum production to 600,000 barrels per day by 2015 and getting to 1 million barrels per day by 2020.

In 2010 the government of Saskatchewan opposed BHP’s attempted takeover of Potash Corp., and the federal government eventually blocked the deal.  But BHP vowed to keep moving its 100% owned Jansen forward.

Called by Mackenzie “the world’s best undeveloped potash resource,” Jansen is expected to produce ten million tonnes of potash a year for at least 50 years.

Though the Manhattan office was set up last year, no reports from 2012 mentioned its existence, Peter Ker reports for the Age.

As BHP moves forward with its American operations, it will have to fend off US authorities who are currently investigating the company for providing inducements, hospitality and gifts to Chinese and other foreign officials just before the Beijing Olympics committee was accepting applications for sponsorships.

BHP was contracted to provide gold, silver and bronze for the official 2008 medals.