BHP Billiton submitted the environmental impact statement (EIS) for its proposed Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment (MOE) in mid-December 2010. The Jansen project, located about 140 km east of Saskatoon, is being designed to produce approximately 8 million mt/y of potash at full capacity, potentially making it the world’s largest potash mine. The proposed mine has resources to support about 70 years of operation.

The Jansen EIS will be released for public comment by the MOE after the document has been reviewed and deemed complete. BHP Billiton currently expects this to occur sometime in the first half of 2011.

The main producing zone of the Jansen deposit is located 850 to 1,100 m below surface. Drilling has started in preparation for the ground freezing process required to sink the project’s production and service shafts. In its November 2010 PotashPages newsletter, BHP Billiton reported the six refrigeration units that will cool the brine for ground freezing would arrive on site in January 2011 and be ready to start the ground-freezing process soon after drilling is completed. The drilling is expected to take four to five months.

Also in mid-December, DMC Mining Services, the mining services subsidiary of Quadra FNX Mining, reported it had signed a contract to develop the two new mine shafts at the Jansen project. DMC estimates the total value of the contract at about $400 million. Over the five-year contract period, DMC will receive a combination of fixed and variable fees based on a percentage of the total contract value. The ultimate margin DMC will earn on the project is contingent on certain performance criteria, including safety, schedule and costs.