Apart from tapping into the Petrikov district's 1064 million tonnes of crude salt, investors are also expected to construct an ore processing unit. Tender conditions outline that the enterprise should be up and running by the end of 2021. Although at this stage governmental representatives refuse to disclose the total value of the operations in Petrikov district, it is confirmed that the investor that wins the tender must make a single subsoil payment in excess of $146.5m, the investor should also cover the $20.7m of exploration costs.

Belarus has, after Canada and Russia, the third largest resources of potash ore, a salt used widely as an agricultural fertilizer. Doubling the salt's production between 2009 and 2010 (to 5 million tonnes in 2010) made the country the third largest producer of potash salt in the world. Extraction of the potash salt from the Petrikov deposit is expected to increase annual production in the country by further 1.5 to 3.5 million tonnes.

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"We understand that our [potash] resources are the way to attract investors to our country," says Dmitry Klevzhits, director of the Belarusian National Agency of Investment and Privatization. The tender can also be seen as a way to showcase investment opportunities in Belarus, Mr Klevzhits adds.

Earlier in 2011, Belarus accepted a joint offer by Russian Sbierbank and German Deutshe Bank for a 35% stake in the state-owned potash salt producer Belaruskali as the collateral for $2bn loan. The country's eagerness to cash in on its vast potash salt reserves can be attributed to the fact that it is battling a huge trade deficit and the aftermaths of increased spending leading up to the 2010 presidential election.

As fDiMarkets data shows, the number of FDI projects in the first three quarters of 2011 decreased by 37% compared to the same period in 2010, and the country is seeking loan from the IMF of between $3bn and $7bn.