* Minister expects BHP to clarify plan within days
* BHP spokesman says project has not gone to board
By Rod Nickel
Aug 17 A government minister in Canada's
potash-rich province of Saskatchewan expects BHP Billiton
to proceed with construction of its potash
mine, and an announcement may come within days, he said on
Bill Boyd, Saskatchewan's minister of the economy, said he
does not expect BHP to delay the project as Brazil's Vale SA
did with its own Saskatchewan project on Thursday.
"We're hearing to the contrary, actually, that they are
moving ahead, that this is a project that looks very positive
for them," Boyd said on Canada's BNN TV. "I think at some point
in the very near future they're going to be clarifying their
investment decisions ... I understand it's probably days, not
But a spokesman for BHP, the world's biggest miner, said the
project has not yet gone to the company's board of directors.
"Work at Jansen continues. The shaft-sinking process is well
underway and we are focused on the detailed engineering studies
and mining lease conversions that we will need to complete
before we take the project to the board," said BHP spokesman
Ruban Yogarajah, in an e-mailed statement to Reuters.
BHP's mine at Jansen, Saskatchewan, would be the world's
largest potash mine, producing 8 million tonnes of the crop
nutrient annually at full production.
The project is one of three mega projects that analysts have
suggested BHP is considering for delay as they await approval by
BHP's board of directors.
The chief executive of BHP rival Vale SA, Murilo Ferreira,
said on Thursday that the company is reconsidering its Kronau
potash project in Saskatchewan, which requires an investment of
$3 billion in its initial phase.
"The project will not be implemented now," Ferreira told
journalists in Rio de Janeiro.
Germany's K+S AG broke ground in June on its own
potash mine in Saskatchewan, where Potash Corp of Saskatchewan
Inc , Agrium Inc and Mosaic Co
also mine potash. Canada accounts for more than 40
percent of global potash reserves.