Billionaire Gina Rinehart has bought a West Australian cattle station, further expanding into the country’s farm sector with a deal that positions the mining magnate to profit from a recent Australian live cattle-export agreement with China.
Rinehart, the richest person in Australia, completed the purchase of the Fossil Downs cattle station in the country’s Kimberley region, a spokesman for Rinehart, Jason Morrison, told Reuters. Financial details of the deal were not revealed.
The Fossil Downs cattle station was put up for sale for the first time in more than 100 years. It will give Rinehart nearly 400,000 hectares (988,422 acres) of agricultural land and 15,000 head of cattle, the listing for the site said.
Although not the largest cattle ranch, Fossil Downs is important as it is just over 400 kilometres from the Port of Brome, one of Australia’s largest ports.
The location should help Rinehart capitalise on the Australia-China deal sealed last week, under which Australia will become the first country to export live cattle for slaughter to China, with the trade likely to be worth as much as A$2 billion ($1.46 billion) annually over the next decade.
China’s beef consumption is set to grow around 2.2 percent annually, faster than pork and poultry, according to Rabobank. By 2025, only 80 percent of China’s consumption demand will be met by local supplies, down from 85 percent currently, according to estimates from the bank prior to the deal.
The Fossil Downs purchase is the second push into the Australian cattle industry made by Rinehart in recent months following an acquisition of a 50 percent stake in two cattle stations in the same region earlier this year.
Rinehart is one of a number of iconic Australian mining figures who are looking to invest in the country’s farm sector amid an expected boom in Asian demand for Australian food.
In 2014, Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals Group , bought Harvey Beef, Western Australia’s largest beef processor and the state’s only accredited exporter to China.
Camperdown Dairy International, owned by former coal investor Bill McDonald, on Monday said it had secured a 15-year agreement with Great Wall Capital Trading to supply 10 million tins of Australian produced infant powder, worth A$600 million per year, to the world’s most populous nation China.
($1 = 1.3725 Australian dollars)