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Billiton pauses dig at Sask. potash site

One of the world’s biggest mining firms has put the excavation work on hold at its potash mining project in Saskatchewan, until next month.

Global mining giant BHP Billiton, in its half-year operational recap released Wednesday, said it paused excavation of its production and service shafts at Jansen, Sask. starting in December, for a “thorough review of the activities completed to date.”

With the review, the company said, it expects to “ensure all learnings are captured and adopted in future works.”

Digging is expected to resumed in February, Billiton said, and noted the project is on schedule, on budget and, as of last week, “16 per cent complete.”

Billiton budgeted US$2.6 billion to finish excavation and lining of its production and service shafts at Jansen, about 70 km southeast of Humboldt, and to continue installing “essential surface infrastructure and utilities.”

“The staggered manner in which we are progressing the production and service shafts allows us to mitigate risk and optimize their development,” the company said.

Billiton has previously said Jansen “is likely to be one of the lowest-cost sources of supply once fully developed.”

The company’s play in Saskatchewan is being watched by other potash and fertilizer firms, which have been able to market their product, mined mainly in the same province, well above its cost of production. Billiton has said its projections for Jansen assume “a shift away from the current marketing dynamic.” –– Network

Related stories:
Billiton pressing further on Sask. potash mine plan, Aug. 20, 2013
PotashCorp rejects major miner’s overture, Aug. 17, 2010

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