Diversified miner BHP Billiton has reached a preliminary agreement with Port of Vancouver USA, in Washington state, regarding the location of a potash export facility.
“The port and BHP Billiton have reached preliminary agreement to proceed and are working to finalize terms and a lease agreement,” according to a statement issued by the port.
Analysts view the move as a sign that BHP remains committed to developing its Jansen potash project in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Jansen is being designed to produce about 8 million tons of potash annually, which is about 12 percent of current global capacity.
“It appears BHP is going through the motions to put the off-site infrastructure in place in order to make a final decision on whether to construct the Jansen mine ... We expect Jansen to get the go-ahead,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Joel Jackson, said in a note to clients.
Graham Kerr, the head of BHP’s Diamond and Specialty Products business, said earlier this year that the company had also finished all of its exploration work around its Boulder and Young potash projects in Saskatchewan.
BHP also controls the Burr project in the province, which it acquired earlier this year through its C$341 million ($328 million) takeover of Athabasca Potash.
BHP has also selected rail proposals from Canadian Pacific Railway and BNSF Railway as its preferred options for transporting potash from Jansen to the U.S. Pacific Northwest port, when that project eventually goes into production.
The Port of Vancouver USA said that once a final agreement has been reached, approval is required from BHP Billiton and the port’s board of commissioners. (Reuters)