BHP entry threatens creaking global potash duopoly
"There is a conflict ... It's linked to the fact that the markets have fallen, profits are down, so some parties have started thinking that their profits could be higher if they were less hamstrung by obligations to a partner," a Belarusian source familiar with the matter said.
Ironically, low prices may yet dissuade BHP from giving the final go-ahead for Jansen.
Bill Doyle, Chief Executive of Potash Corp, the largest producer, certainly thinks Jansen would be a "colossal mistake," but BHP would hardly expect words of encouragement from that corner.
To make a return on a new mine, potash prices must hold at an average of $400-$500 a tonne, industry sources say.
The duopoly would nevertheless be unwise to hope that prices dip below that.
"Low potash prices might not be enough to deter BHP, which is looking at a 50-year horizon," one industry source said.