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Possible bidders for Athabasca could include mining giant BHP Billiton , which has been looking to expand into the potash arena and has proposed building the Jansen mine in Canada's western province of Saskatchewan. Analysts now expect BHP to seek more acquisitions after sealing an iron ore venture with Rio Tinto. Brazilian mining giant Vale is also reportedly looking to expand its
presence in the fertilizer sector and has been linked with a bid for Mosaic Co . China, the world's largest potash importer, has been steadily acquiring natural resource assets across the globe, as valuations have plummeted amid the economic downturn. Analysts believe China may also want to secure potash assets to avoid being held hostage by exorbitant pricing demands. Germany's K+S , one of the world's largest suppliers, has also expressed interest in expanding its potash assets, and fertilizer producers in Russia and India have also been scouting for
assets. Analysts believe Saskatchewan's three established potash miners -- Potash Corp , Mosaic and Agrium Inc may also want to expand their own portfolio of potash assets. Athabasca has retained CIBC World Markets and
Genuity Capital Markets as financial advisors and has formed a committee to look at the proposals. The company has said many parties have shown interest in the project and it has signed confidentiality agreements with
some of them, providing them data that will let them conduct due diligence on the Burr Project, which has a measured and indicated mineral resource of 425 million tonnes. Athabasca said it does not expect to make
any further announcements regarding its strategic review process unless and until a definitive agreement is reached. (Additional reporting by Ashutosh Joshi in Bangalore; editing by Janet Guttsman)
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