VANCOUVER, Wash. – The Port of Vancouver USA announced today that negotiations between the port and BHP Billiton continue to move forward. At their regular Feb. 12 meeting, the port’s Board of Commissioners approved three definitive agreements related to the development of a potash export facility at the port’s Terminal 5.

Highlights of the agreements include the extension of an exclusivity agreement between the two parties to Oct. 31, 2013. Under the agreement, originally executed in Aug. 2010, the port agrees not to market the site to other potential tenants. In return, BHP Billiton agrees to pay the port an appropriate exclusivity fee.

Also included in the agreements is an additional $8.8 million in reimbursements to the port by BHP Billiton for site improvements that will be undertaken by the port to support the export facility. The majority of those improvements are related to the port’s rail system at Terminal 5 that, when complete, will result in a state-of-the-industry rail facility and greatly increase the port’s marketability.

“We are looking forward to continuing our work with BHP Billiton,” said the port’s executive director Todd Coleman. “We believe in this project.”

Commission President Jerry Oliver also voiced his support for moving forward on the project, but offered reassurance to the community that a tremendous amount of strategic planning and hard work has gone into the negotiations. “Your Board has not taken this action lightly. These agreements not only protect the port’s interests in the near-term, but they position us for tremendous growth over the next 20 years,” said Oliver.

The port’s Terminal 5 was selected by BHP Billiton as the preferred site for a new potash export facility in June 2010. The port anticipated a final lease by the end of 2012, but due to a change in the potash project timeline, work on the facility slowed. As reflected in the revised agreements, a final ground lease between the port and BHP Billiton is expected on or before Oct. 31, 2013.