BHP Billiton will invest an additional $488m in the development of the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, which will be used to fund site preparation and the procurement of long lead time items during the project’s feasibility study.

The investment will also enable the firm to develop the first 350m of the production and service shafts following the receipt of government approvals.

To date, the firm has constructed the refrigeration centre and drilled more than 55,000m of wells to complete the 89 freeze holes and monitoring wells required for the production and service shafts.

The Jansen project is expected to begin production in 2015, with an average production capacity of about 8Mtpa of agricultural grade potash and an estimated mine life of 70 years.