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BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers. (TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS)
BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers. (TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS)

Streetwise

BHP's CEO back in Saskatchewan to talk potash Add to ...

BHP Billion Ltd. chief executive officer Marius Kloppers is back in Saskatchwan for the first time since September, 2010, when he tried to get Premier Brad Wall onside with his hostile bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Ltd.

We all know how that saga ended.

This time around, potash is still the main focus -- but only the commodity, not the Canadian company. In fact, Mr. Kloppers is in town to check in on BHP’s own Jansen project. At this point, Jansen is undergoing a feasibility study and Mr. Kloppers wants to see how things are advancing. If all goes well, he will present the project to BHP’s board for approval in 2012.

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Although Mr. Kloppers didn't endear himself to some people in Saskatchewan with his hostile bid for Potash Corp., he won’t be hiding on his visit. The Globe’s mining reporter, Brenda Bouw, points out that there are plans for him to meet with Mr. Wall -- convenient for the Premier considering that he’s in the midst of a re-election campaign.

Still, Mr. Kloppers' real focus is the Jansen project. At this point, BHP contends that it is on track for a two-million-tonne production capacity when it opens in 2015, and could ramp up to eight million tonnes within 10 years, according to BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Joel Jackson.

Earlier this year, BHP threw almost $500-million more at the Jansen project, which brought its total investment in it to $1.2-billion. Those funds have simply prepared the site for construction.

BHP also has hopes of developing its later-stage Melville, Boulder and Young sites nearby.

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