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Sask. mine recruiting hundreds of workers

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BHP is moving forward with its plans to build the world's largest potash mine.

The company is in the midst of a recruitment blitz to build its Jansen potash mine, a $7.5 billion project 140 kilometres east of Saskatoon, as the company looks to hit a peak of 3,500 workers on the site in the coming years.

"This year is sort of commencement of that ramp up," Simon Thomas, BHP's president of potash said.

"The operation workforce will be in the order of 600 people long term. Around 400 to 450 of those will actually live in and around the communities that we operate."

Thomas said while those workers will settle in places like Humboldt, Leroy, Jansen and Lanigan, he expects employees at the mine to reflect the local community. BHP has committed to having a 20 per cent Indigenous workforce, which it is currently exceeding.

"We have programs and will continue to develop programs that create entry pathways to be traineeships, apprenticeships and early engagement to ensure that workforce is ready," he said.

Plenty of work is underway to make the potash mine not only the biggest in the world but the most sustainable when it starts production in 2026.

BHP will ditch its diesel-powered fleet in favour of an electric fleet as the company looks to challenge the province's reliance on fossil fuels.

Roughly 80 per cent of the underground vehicles at the mine will be electric, with plans to increase that to 100 per cent in the coming years.

"Our mine will be in the order of 50 per cent less in terms of CO2 emissions for production," Thomas said.

BHP is also changing the way it pulls potash out of the ground as it aims to use 60 per cent less fresh water than it currently uses per tonne of potash.

Jansen is expected to produce 4.35 million tonnes of potash per year when it comes online in 2026, with the potential for additional expansions.

The initial amount would represent about 20 per cent of the 22 million tonnes of potash produced in 2021.

"We're really pleased with the progress, really pleased with the performance of our teams and our contractors and it gives us a lot of confidence going into this year and into the several years ahead," Thomas said.  

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