PDAC 2024: Rag Udd discusses Canada's role in the global critical minerals race

“It’s a great opportunity and time to join the industry in Canada. It offers a career that allows people to train and work on some of the most interesting and complex projects in the world, use the latest technology to run equipment, lower emissions and waste – and deliver raw materials that are important for sustainable food production and the energy transition,” Chief Commercial Officer, Rag Udd

On March 4, our Chief Commercial Officer, Rag Udd, joined a panel with Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, the Right Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, to discuss Canada’s generational opportunity as a leader in critical minerals.

BHP’s C$14 billion investment in the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan is both the largest investment in BHP’s history and the largest single investment in Saskatchewan’s history.

As a key ingredient in fertilizers, potash is critical for global food security to support the world’s growing population at a time when access to arable land is decreasing. Once stages one and two of Jansen are operating, it is expected to produce approximately 10 per cent of the world’s potash and be among the top five producers by volume globally.

However, BHP’s presence and activities in Canada don’t stop at potash. Our global Exploration head office and business development team are located in Toronto alongside emerging and established industry players. In the last two years, we have entered into over C$160 million in partnerships with local companies on exploration projects across Canada and abroad.

“Capital will flow to stable fiscal and regulatory environments – and today this is a major competitive advantage for Canada,” said Udd. “As the race for critical minerals intensifies, for Canada to remain a global leader, we need to think beyond the attraction of the initial investment and to how workforces, communities and infrastructure are advancing to support industry and enable Canada’s competitiveness. This includes how we are building diverse talent pipelines and the infrastructure needed for communities to fully participate in the economic benefits mining brings.”

At Jansen, BHP has set a goal to maintain gender balance and have 20% Indigenous representation once operational. In 2023, our Potash team became the first operationally-focused group at BHP to achieve gender balance – an achievement we are proud of and one that represents a concerted effort to address a historical imbalance across our industry.

To continue to build a diverse talent pipeline, BHP has partnered with local organizations including Carlton Trail College and Women Building Futures to offer pre-apprenticeships programs to female and Indigenous participants.

“We are facing a qualified trade skills shortage in Canada and we need to raise the profile of the trades as a rewarding career choice and attract diverse talent into the field,” continued Udd. “This a logical place for public and private partnership where industry can bring the technical focus and government can bring the policy implementation.”

The annual PDAC Convention is one of the world’s largest mining conferences bringing together over 30,000 attendees from more than 130 countries in Toronto, Canada.