BHP Billiton is investing $2.6 billion to finish the excavation and lining of the Jansen Potash project production and service shafts, and to continue the installation of essential surface infrastructure and utilities. This investment will be spread over a number of years, with completion of both shafts expected during 2016, while the associated works program will extend into 2017.

Jansen has a huge potash resource and is capable of supporting a mine with annual capacity of 10 million metric tons (mt) for more than 50 years, according to BHP Billiton. The successful excavation and lining of both shafts will substantially reduce development risk and allow the company to time first production to meet growth in market demand.

“Annual investment at Jansen of approximately $800 million will form an important part of the group’s capital and exploration budget, which will decline to approximately $16 billion this year,” said Andrew Mackenzie, CEO, BHP Billiton. “Development of the shafts reflects our confidence in the quality of our 5.3 billion mt measured resource and the compelling long-term fundamentals of the potash industry.”

“Investment at Jansen is creating a valuable asset and we will continue to pursue a development path that maximizes returns for shareholders. In time, this may include the introduction of one or more partners, consistent with our approach for other major operations,” he added.

The updated resource estimate for Jansen has increased to 5.3 billion mt measured resource at 25.7% K2O, 7.1% insolubles and 0.07% MgO and 1.3 million mt inferred resource at 25.7% K2O, 7.1% insolubles and 0.07% MgO.

The Jansen Potash project is 100% owned by BHP Billiton and is located 140 km from Saskatoon, Canada. This approval will take the company’s total commitment to Jansen to approximately $3.8 billion.