Global mining giant BHP Billiton says it will spend $2.6 billion over the next several years to complete work on a portion of its Jansen mine in Canada’s Saskatchewan province. It’s a step, the Port of Vancouver said Wednesday, that indicates the company’s commitment to building an export facility at the port’s Terminal 5 to ship potash — a crop nutrient — primarily to Asian markets.“Port leadership will be meeting with BHP Billiton later this week in Houston and should have a better understanding of the implications of this latest announcement for the port,” Katie Odem, a spokeswoman for the port, said in an email to The Columbian. “We continue to work closely with BHP Billiton on their plans and on a ground lease agreement at Terminal 5.”BHP’s announcement that it will invest in finishing the excavation and lining of the Jansen mine’s production and service shafts — in addition to surface infrastructure and utility work — contrasts with initial concerns by analysts that the company might pull the plug on the project. Those concerns were prompted by the collapse in July of an influential producer cartel, which some analysts said could slash prices for potash.In a news release issued Tuesday, BHP, based in Melbourne, Australia, said the long-term outlook for potash remains strong. “As the world’s population grows and incomes in emerging economies improve, agricultural demand is expected to rise,” the company said. “This will increase the need for potash and require the construction of new mines.”The company also said it’s open to taking on a partner in its Jansen project.In 2010, BHP selected the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 5 as its preferred site for a new potash-export facility. The port originally anticipated securing a final lease deal with BHP at the end of 2012. Construction would have followed shortly thereafter. But softening global demand for commodities forced the company to delay its plans.