BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) is bullish on the rising demand of food as global population continues to rise. The Australian mining giant said Tuesday that it will invest $2.6 billion in  Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan by 2017. A large part of this fund will be spent on building surface infrastructure and shafts. Today’s commitment of BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) takes the total investment in Jansen potash project to $3.8 billion.

BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton’s investment ends dull phase

In 2010, BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) tried acquiring Potash Corp for $39 billion. But Saskatchewan opposed the deal, which was later blocked by the federal government. The world’s largest mining firm announced a major investment at a time when a Russian potash supplier ended an arrangement that will result into lower potash prices, reports James Wilson of the Financial Times. With this announcement, BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) has ended a dull period in the industry. Mining giants have recently been focusing on protecting earnings and boosting their cash pile as demand in China has slowed.

Jansen project is the largest investment decision by BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP)’s newly appointed CEO Andrew Mackenzie. Russian mining giant Uralkali recently said that it will terminate a cartel arrangement with Belarusian potash supplier that was the reason behind high potash prices. It now expects prices to decline sharply.

Andrew Mackenzie said in a statement that the Jansen potash project will be a valuable asset for the company. BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) will continue to focus on maximizing shareholder returns, he added. The company plans to invest $800 million in Jansen per year. It will be a part of the company’s $16 billion capital and exploration budget.

BHP Billiton earnings fall

BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) posted a 30% decline in its annual earnings from $15.42 billion to $10.88 billion. Revenues for 12 months ending June fell 8% to $65.97 billion, BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) announced Tuesday. The Australian company also announced a dividend of 59 cents a share. That takes the annual dividend payout to $1.16 per share.

BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) depends heavily on iron ores for its revenues and earnings. Slowing demand in China, the world’s largest consumer of iron ore, has hurt its earnings. The company is trying to diversify to other commodities to lower its reliance on iron ore.

American shares of BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) fell 0.60% to $66.57 at 10:10 AM EDT.