Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

The construction of the world’s largest potash mine

Jansen is slated to be the world’s largest potash mine, twice the size of its closest rival. With a total estimated cost of some $14-billion, it’s a brazen bet by Australian mega-miner BHP Billiton Ltd. that the crop nutrient will be the world’s most important mined commodity for decades as farmers struggle to boost food production for a hungry planet. Jansen promises to drive a momentous power shift in the global potash industry, dominated for decades by groups of producers, under fire as alleged cartels, that have controlled most of the world’s supply and enjoyed strong profits.

1 of 8

Meet the Herrenknecht, a borer drill the size of a blue whale that is tearing up the Saskatchewan landscape – and with it the economics of the mining industry’s new hot commodity. Some 32 metres long and as wide as a small house, the custom-made piece of German engineering is embarking on a journey to a point one kilometre below the province’s grain fields. There it will strike prairie gold – potash.

DAVID STOBBE/The Globe and Mail

2 of 8

Jansen is slated to be the world’s largest potash mine, twice the size of its closest rival. With a total estimated cost of some $14-billion, it’s a brazen bet by Australian mega-miner BHP Billiton Ltd. that the crop nutrient will be the world’s most important mined commodity for decades as farmers struggle to boost food production for a hungry planet.

DAVID STOBBE/The Globe and Mail

3 of 8

“We believe in the long-term fundamentals of potash, in population growth and limited arable land growth,” says Tim Cutt, president of BHP’s diamonds and specialty products unit, standing beside two 47-metre head frames at the Jansen mine, with the barren Saskatchewan prairie stretching in the distance. “We’re viewing this as an opportunity as demand grows in Brazil, China and India for potash from Saskatchewan,” Mr. Cutt says.

DAVID STOBBE/The Globe and Mail

4 of 8

Ralph Musick, Project Shaft Manager, in front of one of the head frames at the BHP Jansen Mine.

DAVID STOBBE/The Globe and Mail

Story continues below advertisement

5 of 8

Skip Delisle, maintenance supervisor for the shaft at the BHP Jansen Mine.

DAVID STOBBE/The Globe and Mail

6 of 8

Dalton Reid, freeze plant operator for the BHP Jansen Mine, looks at an operating panel at the plant.

David Stobbe/The Globe and Mail

7 of 8

John Stubbe, left, Jansen Project Director and Dalton Reid, freeze plant operator for the BHP Jansen Mine, walk through the freeze plant.

David Stobbe/The Globe and Mail

8 of 8

LeRoy residents Tony Tanasichuk (right) and mayor Morris Hartman talk about the affects the BHP Jansen Mine is having on their small community. LeRoy is investing in infrastructure upgrades and has already sold residential lots to investors in anticipation of welcoming new residents as Jansen – with its head shaft towers visible in the distance – ramps up.

DAVID STOBBE/The Globe and Mail

Report an error
Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.