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China says will pay close attention to BHP bid for Potash

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 15, 2010
China said Wednesday it would pay close attention to BHP Billiton's hostile bid for Canada's Potash Corp, the world's largest fertiliser maker, in the first official comment on the issue.

"We will pay close attention to this transaction," commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian told reporters.

Potash last month rejected a hostile bid from mining giant BHP valued at 40 billion dollars.

China -- a big importer of potash, which is used to make fertiliser -- has been uneasy about the BHP bid, as it already relies on the Anglo-Australian mining group for the import of a lot of its iron ore.

"Fertilisers are a vital element of every country's agricultural production and are linked to national food and economic security," Yao said.

"China is a country that depends on imported potash, and China's dependence on potash imports stood at 55 percent in 2008."

Potash has said it is exploring other offers after rejecting BHP's bid, and local Chinese media have reported that state-owned Sinochem Group, the country's top fertiliser maker, is evaluating an offer for the Canadian firm.

earlier related report
Europe takes steps to battle bee decline
Brussels (UPI) Sep 15, 2010 - In response to the ongoing decline in the world's bee populations, the European Union says it will increase its financial support of Europe's beekeeping sector.

The $35 million annual support of 2008-2010 will be increased to $43 million from 2011 to 2013, EUobserver reported Wednesday.

The increased money from Brussels will go towards national research projects dedicated to discovering methods for controlling threats faced by bees.

Domesticated honeybees are among Europe's most important pollinators, but they have been hit by a plague of problems over the last decade, including habitat loss, climate change and parasites, experts say.

Of greater concern are mass die-offs dubbed "colony collapse disorder," which first hit North America in 2006 and has since spread to Europe.

Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have been hit particularly hard by the problem, the cause of which is still not understood.

"About 30 percent of our food comes from plants pollinated by bees so it is clear that we will all be in big trouble if bees continue to disappear," EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said.

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