BHP after potash partner

Mining giant reportedly looking for strategic partner to 'add value' to Jansen project.

BHP Billiton (BHP) chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie is seeking to emulate the group's partnership with Rio Tinto (RIO) in a copper mine joint venture, with a strategic partner in its $US15 billion Jansen Canadian potash project, The Australian Financial Review reports.

According to the newspaper, Mr Mackenzie said the group is looking for a partner who will add value, and has reportedly already held discussions with parties about selling a stake in the asset.

"We get enormous benefits from having minority partners in our operations. At Escondida [copper mine in Chile], Rio Tinto has 30% and we get all the fire power of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton that definitely enhances the returns that we get from that project," he told the AFR.

"In iron ore, we have very effective partnerships with Japanese companies whose way of thinking about business is different and it challenges us. I’m looking for that kind of partner, who can improve the project economics because they bring in a different way of thinking that it’s hard to develop within one company alone."

BHP announced a $2.6 billion investment in the potash project over three years, as part of the mining giant's full-year results last week.