BHP Billiton has made ”significant” progress in the development of its Saskatchewan mine worth billions. One shaft at BHP Billiton’s giant deposit in Saskatchewan reached a depth of 1,005 meters and the second one is to reach the bottom in the upcoming days, informed Giles Hellyer, president of BHP’s Canadian unit. This progress marks a critical excavation phase and is a major landmark milestone that will unlock capacity options for the world’s leading potash maker.
The progress follows a slower period of development coupled with a period of lower fertilizer prices. The potash is not rebounding and America spot prices are expected to go up by 15% by the end of this year. “Certainly, we have an expectation that markets will come into balance around the mid-to-late 2020s,” Mr. Hellyer said. “It’s fair to say the look and feel of the project has changed quite dramatically.”
The Melbourne-based company in 2017 put off its plans to try to get a board approval for a planned $4.7bn first phase of the project. The entire project could have cost $13bn, Deutsche Bank AG said last month. The fate of the project is, however, unclear as BHP needs to decide whether to hurry up with development, bring onboard a partner or sell the mine once the shaft work is complete. “We continue to work on the engineering of the project so that we can improve the returns,” CEO Andrew Mackenzie said last week. “We’re looking for a partner, which of course could give you early monetization, and we’re watching the market, but not in a hurry to make a decision.”