The “greening” of the world’s biggest mining companies is accelerating with a rush into environmentally benign material, such as potash, a high-value fertilizer, matched by an exit from the most polluting of minerals—coal.
Global miner Anglo American flagged its renewed interest in fertilizer with a proposal last week to acquire a troubled British potash-project developer, Sirius Minerals, which is developing the Woodsmith mine in Yorkshire, in the U.K.
If successful, the $500 million takeover would mark a return to fertilizer three years after Anglo American sold a phosphate business as part of a company-wide clean up.
BHP, the biggest of the four major diversified western world miners, a group which includes Rio Tinto and Glencore, is also investing in potash through the development of a new mine in Canada.
More than $2 billion has already been sunk by BHP into the Jansen project in the province of Saskatchewan, and at least that amount needs to be spent to finalize construction and start delivering potash to farmers who value its beneficial effects on plant growth.
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“Green” Minerals Replacing Black Coal
BHP’s new-found interest in less environmentally polluting minerals has also seen it withdraw a nickel processing business from sale, thanks to surging demand for nickel from battery makers supplying electric car makers.z