January 13, 2012 / 2:07 PM / 6 years ago

BHP won't sell potash via Canada's Canpotex: report

(Reuters) - BHP Billiton (BLT.L) won’t sell potash from its proposed mine at Jansen, Saskatchewan, through the Canpotex marketing agency, a newspaper in the Western Canadian province reported on Friday.

The Anglo-Australian miner is developing what would be the world’s biggest mine of the crop nutrient potash, producing 8 million tonnes per year.

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO), Mosaic (MOS.N) and Agrium (AGU.TO) make off-shore potash sales from their Saskatchewan mines through Canpotex, which the three miners jointly own.

But BHP, one of several multinational companies planning new potash mines in Saskatchewan, said it will sell its potash independently, according to a story in the Regina Leader-Post.

“We will market (potash) through our marketing arm,” the newspaper quoted Tim Cutt, president of diamond and specialty products for BHP, as saying. “We will not market through Canpotex. We talked to the premier (of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall) about that. He understands that. We do think there’s room in the market for everybody.”

Potash - the common name for widely used crop nutrient potassium chloride - is only mined in a handful of countries. Canada, Belarus and Russia account for the vast majority of the world’s production and exports.

BHP’s plan to bypass Canpotex is not surprising, since it voiced similar plans during its failed takeover attempt of Potash Corp in 2010.

Those plans alarmed the Saskatchewan government, because it collects royalties from potash mining that are calculated in part based on prices of the nutrient.

BHP plans to make a final decision on developing the Jansen mine this year, with first production set for 2015.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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