BHP in talks with Nutrien on giant potash mine
BHP Group is in talks with Nutrien Ltd. about a potential partnership in its massive Canadian potash venture as the world’s biggest mining company moves closer to a final decision on the project.
The two companies are discussing multiple options, including Nutrien becoming the operator and selling the potash through its existing channels, or the Canadian company taking a stake in the Jansen mine, according to people familiar with the matter. There is no guarantee the talks will lead to a deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private, reported Bloomberg.
BHP has struggled with the Jansen project for years. Despite already spending about $4.5bn and digging two 1,000-meter (3,300-feet) deep shafts, the company has yet to approve its construction and has faced shareholder opposition, including from Elliott Investment Management. Still, BHP’s board is set to make a final decision in the coming months.
The miner has repeatedly said it’s open to bringing a partner into the project, especially one with expertise in the fertilizer market or potash. While that’s a product it currently doesn’t mine, BHP sees potash as a potential cornerstone of its future business. Spokespeople for BHP and Nutrien declined to comment.
Nutrien shares in Toronto rallied as much as 2.4% to C$74.57 ($61.55) on Wednesday, a one-week high.
“We continue to like potash. We think the long-term demand and supply fundamentals for potash are attractive,” BHP Chief Executive Officer Mike Henry said at a conference last week when asked about the project. “We’ve always said we’re open to partnering, but the project doesn’t need a partner to proceed.”
Should an agreement be reached with BHP, it would mark a sharp reversal in Nutrien’s attitude. The company has been an outspoken critic of the project for years, saying its development would flood the market with unneeded potash. Yet Nutrien’s tone has changed since Mayo Schmidt replaced Chuck Magro as CEO earlier this year.
The company - formed in 2018 from the merger of two large Canadian agriculture firms, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan and Agrium Inc. — said this month that the market could cope with the tonnes from Jansen if mined in a “disciplined” way.
BHP, which tried to buy Potash Corp. in 2010, is expected to decide in the next few months on whether to approve a further $5.7bn in spending to bring Jansen into production.
People Moves: Peter Cunningham appointed Rio Tinto CFO
Rio Tinto has appointed Peter Cunningham as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with immediate effect. Peter, who has been Interim Chief Financial Officer since 1 January 2021, will also join the Rio Tinto Board as an executive director at the same time.
Peter Cunningham appointed Rio Tinto CFO
Peter Cunningham was previously Group Controller and has held a number of senior financial and non-financial leadership positions across Rio Tinto in Australia and the UK. In a career spanning 28 years with Rio Tinto, he has held roles including Global Head of Health, Safety, Environment & Communities; Head of Energy and Climate Strategy; and Head of Investor Relations.
Prior to joining Rio Tinto, Peter qualified as a chartered accountant.
Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm commented: “I am delighted to confirm Peter in the role and, having worked closely with him for a number of years, I know he is the ideal person to be our Chief Financial Officer. His detailed knowledge of the company and of the financial and non-financial drivers of our industry will be invaluable as we continue to strengthen Rio Tinto.”
Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson added: "I look forward to Peter joining the Rio Tinto Board and know from experience that his deep understanding of Rio Tinto and commitment to disciplined capital allocation will serve shareholders well and enrich our Board discussions.”
Rio Tinto aiming for net zero by 2050
Rio Tinto is aiming to reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Across the company, it is targeting a 15% reduction in absolute emissions and a 30% reduction in emissions intensity by 2030, from a 2018 baseline.
Aluminium is found in everything from cars to phones. But one of the challenges of producing this essential material responsibly is finding ways to decarbonise the process.
Part of the reason is creating alumina – the main ingredient in aluminium – takes a lot of energy, which in turn creates greenhouse gas emissions. New technologies will be essential to helping reduce emissions, but many haven’t been proven. And some not yet even discovered. Rio Tinto is partnering with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)to develop hydrogen energy options and make a positive step towards these goals.