The successful completion of BHP Billiton’s $US320 million acquisition of Canada’s Athabasca Potash Inc signals the start of a new era for the industry and an uncomfortable period for the cartels which today dominates it. Athabasca gives BHP control of a development project and a very large portfolio of exploration acreage adjacent to its own Jansen project in the Saskatchewan potash basin, which contains nearly half the world’s known potash reserves. BHP has already committed $US240 million to the first phase of development at Jansen, which it regards as having the potential to become a world-class lost-cost project.