BHP withdraws permit for Hoquiam potash facility

The company behind the proposed potash export facility at the Port of Grays Harbor, with its $400 million in local investment and estimated 50 jobs, has withdrawn its permit applications with the City of Hoquiam, taking the Port of Grays Harbor’s Terminal 3 out of the running for the facility.

“Today, the City of Hoquiam received written notice that BHP Billiton has withdrawn” its shoreline permit applications to proceed with the facility, Hoquiam Mayor Ben Winkelman said Friday .

BHP, a global mining company, released a statement Friday that read, “During the past three years, BHP has engaged with local stakeholders and rights holders regarding a potash export facility at the Port of Grays Harbor. … Despite significant constructive engagement, and previous changes to our environmental permit application to address some requests, local stakeholder groups continue to express concerns and regulators have identified further processes to be completed and resolved for the proposed facility.”

The BHP statement continued, “BHP does not believe we would be able to address these outstanding issues in the planned development time frame for Stage 1 of the Jansen Potash Project, and have thus withdrawn our permit applications for the proposed facility at the Port of Grays Harbor.”

The Jansen potash mine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada would have supplied the potash, a potassium-based mineral used in the manufacture of agricultural fertilizer, which would have been taken by rail to the Terminal 3 facility for shipment to overseas markets.

“BHP respects the rights of local rights holders and stakeholders, and in the spirit of building strong mutually beneficial relationships we seek to understand their concerns and interests. We are very grateful to all of the local groups who took the time to engage with us during this process and to the local elected leadership and business community for their significant support,” said Giles Hellyer, BHP’s VP Operations for Potash.

Winkelman’s statement said the proposed project would have brought $400 million in investment into the community, along with an estimated 50 full time jobs once the facility was operational.

“Throughout the process, BHP’s management and project team were extremely professional, transparent, and diligent to address the local, state and federal permitting process,” said Winkelman. “Unfortunately, these challenges have become too daunting which led to their decision to rescind the permit applications.”

BHP continues to progress permitting at DP World Fraser Surrey in British Columbia, Canada, the other site under consideration, alongside Hoquiam, as well as investigating other terminals on the northwest coast of North America.

“Regulatory reform that address permit timelines, clarity in the regulations and certainty of permit approval for applicants that meet the requirements, must be made at the state and federal level if Hoquiam and Grays Harbor are ever going to recoup some of the manufacturing and industrial family wage jobs that have been lost over the years,” concluded Winkelman.