BHP Will Wait for Right Time to Go Ahead With Its Potash Project

BHP Billiton Ltd.’s new potash boss signaled the biggest mining company is waiting for the right time before pressing the button on its huge project in Canada.

“It’s all about timing ourselves into this market,” Dean Dalla Valle, who was named chief commercial officer in charge of potash earlier this week, said Thursday in an interview in Sydney. “This has the potential to be a material business in the future, in a market that’s growing.”

The producer is looking to build its Jansen project in Saskatchewan province sometime in the next decade and is continuing to seek a partner, CEO Andrew Mackenzie said last year. Spending of about $3.8 billion has been approved so far on the project and Citigroup Inc. forecasts it may cost as much as $16 billion.

“We’ve got plenty of resource there to develop our own sizable chunk of the market when we choose,” said Dalla Valle, who was named president of marketing, safety and technology in November and will retain those responsibilities.

Prices for the crop nutrient haven’t recovered from a plunge in mid-2013. Potash will fall into deficit after 2020 as existing mines are depleted and higher yields are needed from arable land to feed a growing global population with diets that include increasing amounts of protein, BHP said last year.

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