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BHP’s potash aspirations gain momentum


BHP continues to bolster its Jansen potash project after receiving a handsome investment from the Canadian Government.

Canada will invest up to $C100 million ($112 million) into the project, which will be made through the country’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).

BHP is planning “state-of-the-art” integrated mining systems at Jansen, which the company said have never been used in potash mining. In partnership with Sandvik, the systems would allow BHP to produce at rates more than 2.5 times the output of conventional potash mining methods.

It would also lead to 60 per cent less equipment being used, improving the project’s safety credentials and lessening its environmental footprint.

The major miner said it would also implement battery-electric technologies at Jansen.

“We are pursuing the purchase of underground battery-electric vehicles, wherever commercially available, which lowers workforce exposure to diesel exhaust and support our objective of eliminating diesel use entirely within the Jansen Stage 1 underground operation,” the company said in a statement.

In May, BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry said the company would be accelerating Jansen’s development so it could produce first ore in 2026 rather the original 2027 target.

“Jansen Stage 1 is tracking to plan,” BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry said at the 2022 Bank of America Global Metals, Mining & Steel Conference.

“Of the $US5.7 billion ($8.25 billion) investment, we’ve awarded around $US1.4 billion ($2.03 billion) in contracts so far, (and) another $US200 million ($289 million) since our half-year results in February, covering port infrastructure, underground mining systems and other shaft and surface construction activities.”

This comes as Russia and Belarus, which combine to make up almost 40 per cent of the world’s potash supply, currently navigate a conflict of their own instigation.

In February, Belarus was cut off from its potash export routes, through Lithuania and Ukraine, before independent Belarusian media reported in March that the country’s largest potash producer Belaruskali had halted operations at three of its five mines due to the lack of export routes.

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