June 30, 2011 / 5:55 PM / in 7 years

REFILE-UPDATE 1-BHP's Jansen potash mine gets environmental OK

(Refiles to fix typo in first paragraph)

(In U.S. dollars unless noted)

TORONTO, June 30 (Reuters) - Mining giant BHP Billiton (BHP.AX)(BLT.L) said on Thursday that its Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan has received a key environmental approval from the provincial government.

The Anglo-Australian miner had submitted the environmental impact statement in December and the approval takes the project, which could become the world’s largest potash mine, a step further in the development process.

BHP’s board has yet to approve the final development of the multibillion-dollar project, but a final go-ahead is expected sometime next year.

The project is expected to employ about 1,900 people during construction and create around 1,000 operational jobs once the mine has reached full capacity.

BHP estimates that Jansen will generate more than C$90 billion ($94 billion) in royalties and taxes to Canadian municipal, provincial and federal governments, over the life of the project.

Earlier this month, BHP said it had approved $488 million in new spending to support development of Jansen in its feasibility study stage. Jansen is being designed to produce about 8 million tonnes of potash annually, with output set to begin in 2015.

Last year, BHP attempted to buy its way into the potash business through a $39 billion takeover of Canada’s Potash Corp POT.TO, but the bid fell apart after Canadian regulators objected to the offer, arguing that it was not of “net benefit” to the country.

BHP, however said it intends to continue to develop its Jansen project and other potash projects in the Western Canadian province of Saskatchewan. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Peter Galloway)

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