Australian mining and metals company BHP has announced plans to invest $4.9bn in the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The investment will finance stage two of the project, which aims to double BHP’s production capacity to around 8.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of potash. BHP is looking to develop more mining districts, bolster shaft hoist infrastructure to handle higher mining volumes, expand facilities and increase the number of rail cars.

Potash is a potassium-rich salt used in food production and sustainable farming. The Jansen project in Saskatchewan seeks to create one of the world’s largest potash mines.

“This is an important milestone that underscores our confidence in potash and marks the next phase of the company’s growth in Canada,” said BHP CEO Mike Henry. “We believe Jansen will deliver long-term value for shareholders and the local community and will position BHP as one of the leaders in the global potash world.”

News about stage two of the project came after, in October 2022, the company secured an initial funding commitment of $188m to procure long lead equipment and begin work on the process plant foundation.

Work on stage two is expected to take approximately six years, with the new mine expansion likely to begin operations in 2029. BHP will then aim to ramp up production in the next three years.

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Saskatchewan is one of Canada’s very few provinces where the unemployment rate has gone down significantly in the past two years, hitting 4.6% in October 2022, down from 6.3% in October 2021.

According to the local government, 26.1% of the region’s economy rests on mining and petroleum, immediately followed by the combined finance, insurance and estate sector (13.6%).

Overall, FDI inflows in Canada rose by 6.0% in 2022 compared to the year before, reaching $71.6bn. The energy and mining sector in the country attracted the second-highest amount of FDI inflows in Q1 2023, right after the manufacturing industry, according to GlobalData.