Expensive catch as farmers buy back land from Chinese company Shenhua

Australian farmers are buying precious farmland BACK from China – but there was a very expensive catch and it involves YOUR taxes

  • China’s state-owned Shenhua Watermark Coal has sold land in northwestern NSW
  • A dozen farming families and an agribusiness bought 16,750 hectares of land
  • CBRE brokered $120 million sale after Shenhua pulled out of exploration










A dozen Australian farming families have bought back farmland from a Chinese state mining company.

Shenhua Watermark Coal’s 16,570-acre property on the Liverpool Plains, in northwestern NSW, has been sold for $120 million — 13 years after it bought the land from farmers.

CBRE, which handled the sale, confirmed that 12 farming families and one company had jointly purchased the land near Gunnedah.

The soil was then put on the market in July the state government paid Shenhua Watermark Coal $100 million to withdraw its mining lease application to develop an open-cut mine.

Instead, the land will now be used for grazing sheep and cattle, along with growing crops after a decade-long battle to stop the mine from continuing.

A dozen Australian farming families have bought back farmland from a Chinese state mining company. National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson (pictured left), who is also a farmer in Liverpool Plains, said locals had fought against plans to allow mining in the area.

David Goodfellow, CEO of CBRE Agribusiness, said an agricultural investment manager bought a third of the entire land portfolio, while a dozen local farming families bought the rest.

“Families in this region have recovered well from the drought and are now looking to expand their business to take advantage of low interest rates and continued strong commodity prices to make intergenerational buying decisions,” he said.

National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson, who is also a farmer in Liverpool Plains, said locals had fought against plans to allow mining in the area.

“Local landowners have been eyeing this land for a long time, waiting and wanting it back,” she told ABC Radio National.

“However, the community largely disagreed that this was the best place for a coal mine, we thought this was the best place for farming and the community fought a long and hard battle to make sure this land is preserved.” for agriculture. .

Shenhua Watermark Coal had paid $300 million for a coal exploration license in 2008.

Shenhua Watermark Coal's 16,570-acre property on the Liverpool Plains, in northwestern NSW, has been sold for $120 million — 13 years after it bought the land from farmers.  CBRE, who handled the sale, confirmed that 12 farming families and one firm had jointly purchased the land near Gunnedah (the intersection of Oxley and Newell highways is pictured)

Shenhua Watermark Coal’s 16,570-acre property on the Liverpool Plains, in northwestern NSW, has been sold for $120 million — 13 years after it bought the land from farmers. CBRE, who handled the sale, confirmed that 12 farming families and one firm had jointly purchased the land near Gunnedah (the intersection of Oxley and Newell highways is pictured)

In July 2017, the New South Wales government, then Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian, paid Shenhua $262 million to return 51 percent of that exploration permit.

In April 2021, her then-treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced that the Berejiklian government would buy back the remainder of Shenhua’s mining lease for an additional $100 million.

“The cancellation of this project means there will be no open coal mining in the area,” he said at the time.

“Coal will of course remain an important part of our economy and essential to supporting jobs, and the NSW government will continue to support coal exploration in areas where it makes sense.”

Shenhua Watermark Coal had paid $300 million for a coal exploration license in 2008 (shown is a Shenhua Group plant in Yinchuan in northern China)

Shenhua Watermark Coal had paid $300 million for a coal exploration license in 2008 (shown is a Shenhua Group plant in Yinchuan in northern China)

Under the original licensing agreement, Shenhua had to sell the land if the mine fell through.

CBRE received 45 land expressions of interest for all or part of the Shenhua lots near Tambar Springs, Barraba and Breeza.

Overseas interests have had to seek approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board to purchase farmland valued at $15 million or more.

Chinese agricultural investment is a thorny issue.

In 2012, Chinese textile giant Shandong Ruyi bought 80 percent of Cubbie Station in southwestern Queensland.

But in 2019, the FIRB demanded it reduce its stake in Australia’s largest irrigation project, including cotton, to 51 percent.

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