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BHP Billiton announced approval for $240 million of capital expenditure to support the development of the first stages of the Jansen Potash Project in Saskatchewan, Canada. This pre-approval expenditure will facilitate the early-stage work for the establishment of the production and service shafts. The Jansen project, which is being designed to ultimately produce approximately 8 million metric tons per year of agricultural-grade potash, represents BHP Billiton's first production of potash.
Grassroots exploration continued on copper targets in Chile, Argentina and Zambia; nickel targets in Australia; manganese targets in Gabon; and diamond targets in Canada. Exploration for iron ore, coal, bauxite and manganese was undertaken in a number of regions, including Australia, South America, Russia and West Africa.
For the half-year ended December 31, 2009, BHP Billiton spent $239 million on minerals exploration, of which $220 million was expensed. Consistent with BHP Billiton’s growth strategy, the total forecast exploration expenditure for the 2010 financial year increased by $200 million to $800 million, primarily due to increased drilling activity.
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