The final decision on whether to keep going on the Jansen potash project has yet to be made.
BHP Billiton’s board will hear the final investment decision in the middle of next year.
Acting manager of corporate affairs for potash, Chris Ryder, says it was originally scheduled for February but there have been a few delays because it took longer to remove the boring machines safely, and because of COVID-19.
In March, the number of workers was reduced in line with the response to the pandemic, working on just one shaft instead of two, but it was back to full capacity in June.
The forecast capital costs from now to the end of stage 1 of the Jansen mine is between $5.3 and $5.7-billion U.S.
Ryder says potash is a demand-driven market, underpinned by population growth, with the estimate of feeding and extra 2-billion people by 2050, BHP could be tapping into a share of the market down the road, if the company decides to continue investing in the Jansen mine.
Right now, BHP employs about 150 people in its Saskatoon office and anywhere between 2 and 300 people on site at the mine, about 60 kilometres southeast of Humboldt.
Ryder estimates the work to the end of stage 1 of the project is 86% complete.