Sandvik Mining and Construction (SMC) has entered into an agreement with BHP Billiton for the conceptual design of a mechanical cutting system for use at BHP Billiton’s Jansen potash project. The project, located near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada will employ Sandvik Borer Miners designed and developed under this agreement. The Sandvik Borer Miners will incorporate the latest technology available for enhancement of automation, production, life cycle costs and safety. Sandvik Borer Miners (including the former Marietta Borer) are used around the world for mining potash and trona and are well known for their high production rates and low life cycle costs.
In June this year, BHPB announced an additional approval for $488 million of further investment to support development of the Jansen project. This additional pre-commitment capital is funding site preparation and the procurement of long lead time items during the project’s feasibility study. The funding is enabling BHP Billiton to develop the first 350 m of the production and service shafts following governmental approval for the project was confirmed at the end of June 2011. This announcement took BHP Billiton’s investment in Jansen to $1.2 billion and the total dedicated to Saskatchewan to almost $2 billion (including acquisitions), reflecting the company’s commitment to develop a world class potash business in the province.In February 2011, BHP Billiton had announced progression of the Jansen Potash Project into the feasibility study phase. On site, the company had already constructed the refrigeration centre and drilled more than 55,000 m of wells to complete the 89 freeze holes and monitoring wells required for the production and service shafts. Based on the current schedule, Jansen is expected to start producing saleable potash from its 3,370 Mt in-situ Mineral Resource in calendar year 2015. The project is designed to ultimately produce approximately 8 Mt/y of agricultural grade potash with an estimated 70-year mine life.
BHP Billiton has also stated that it continues to study other potential projects in the Saskatchewan potash basin and began drilling at Melville in July 2011, having undertaken 2D and 3D seismic surveys of the project area. The Boulder and Young projects continue to progress as do other studies in the area. While the full size and potential of these development options have yet to be confirmed, BHP Billiton believes its Saskatchewan potash business could reach an annual production capacity of more than 16 Mt/y.