The CEO of the company that wants to buy Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan said Monday it will spend "billions of dollars" to advance its Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan whatever the outcome of its bid.

BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers was responding to speculation from analysts that his company might not make Jansen a priority if it succeeds in its $38.6-billion US bid for PotashCorp, which already operates five potash mines in Saskatchewan.


BHP CEO Marius Kloppers, shown at a news conference in 2008, says the company's Jansen project will proceed regardless of the outcome of its bid for PotashCorp. ((Scott Barbour/Associated Press))

Kloppers said BHP has already invested $400 million in Jansen and hopes to start producing potash from the mine by 2015.

"By that point, we will have invested billions of dollars, thousands of people will have been employed during construction and there will about 1,000 people working on various dimensions of the mine," he said Monday at an event to open BHP's new potash headquarters in Saskatoon.

Once at full production, Jansen is expected to produce about eight million tonnes per year.

"BHP Billiton is intimately aware just how important potash is to this province's economy, to its people and to its future. We continue to make investments in Jansen and our other development options right here in Saskatchewan," he said.

PotashCorp has rejected the $130-per-share offer, made in August, as "wholly inadequate and is not in the best interests of the company."

BHP is waiting for approval from Canadian and American competition authorities, as well as the federal government, before it asks PotashCorp shareholders to vote on the bid.

The offer expires on Oct. 19, but Kloppers said it can be extended if necessary.

With files from The Canadian Press