BHP Billiton will invest $240m for the development of its first potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, the Jansen potash project.

The funds will be used for early stage work for the establishment of production and service shafts and ground freezing to enable safe and effective shaft sinking and execution of engineering, equipment and materials commitments.

The project, in its final phase of a pre-feasibility study, is due to move into the feasibility stage in the middle of the year.

Complete environmental permits for the project are expected in mid-2011 and a full investment decision is scheduled in late 2011.

Jansen is expected to produce eight million tons of potash a year.

Apart from the Jansen project, the company will also proceed with the Boulder and Young greenfield potash projects in Saskatchewan.