In a contemporary context, with grain prices soaring and the need to double global food production by 2050 to feed a growing population, that same wise old soul might well say, “Potash”.
And that’s why BHP Billiton is prepared to spend $39bn (£25bn) – and probably quite a lot more – on the world’s biggest miner of the stuff.
Nothing makes plants grow quite like potash and Canada’s PotashCorp has access to reserves of it currently valued at £100bn.
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