BHP won't sell Jansen mine potash through Canpotex

BHP Billiton, which is developing the huge Jansen potash mine is Saskatchewan, says it will sell its potash independently and not through the Canadian potash marketing agency Canpotex.

"We will market (potash) through our marketing arm," the Regina Leader-Post quoted Tim Cutt, president of diamond and specialty products for BHP, as saying. "We will not market through Canpotex. We talked to the premier (of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall) about that. He understands that. We do think there's room in the market for everybody."

BHP's competitors, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, Mosaic and Agrium all sell their potash for export through Canpotex, which is jointly owned by the three miners.

BHP's refusal to market through Canpotex was a sticking point when BHP was planning a hostile takeover of PotashCorp back in 2010, because the Saskatchewan government earns royalties from potash mining. The acquisition was eventually quashed by the federal government because it was not deemed to be in the national interest.

BHP Billiton plans to spend an additional $488 million at its Jansen potash project east of Saskatoon, bringing the company’s total investment to $1.2 billion.

If converted to a mine Jansen would be the largest in the world at eight million tonnes per year and would cost an estimated $12 billion. Production could start in 2015 with an estimated life of mine of 70 years.

MINING.com reported this week, however, that the Jansen mine is among several oil and potash properties in Saskatchewan mentioned in a $10 billion lawsuit launched by the George Gordon First Nation. The Saskatchewan-based first nation alleges that it was not properly consulted before lands owned by Canada and Saskatchewan were sold to private interests.

Front-page image of the bulk carrier U-SEA COLONSAY, which was recently launched by Canpotex to ship potash.