China’s Shenhua is looking to sell off a huge portfolio of farmland in the Liverpool Plains in regional New South Wales (NSW), just months after the company was paid $100 million (USD75 million) to walk away from a mining lease in the area.
Shenhua Watermark Coal has put the combined 16,570 hectares of land it acquired in Breeza, Barraba, and Tambar Springs on the market for an asking price of $122 million (USD 91 million).
A successful sale will signal the end of Shenhua’s attempt to develop a $1 billion (US$749 million) coal mining project, which was expected to yield 10 million tonnes of coal per annum, over a 30-year period.
David Goodfellow, managing director at CBRE Agribusiness, said the properties would be sold as a whole or as separate parcels.
“One of the things we are pretty focused on is giving the opportunities to locals to buy that land back, and we are prepared to split the land up to enable that,” Goodfellow told the Daily Telegraph.
“But at the same time, the great attraction here is that someone has already done the work to build this massive aggregation, so it is going to be of genuine interest to the big corporates.”
Shenhua is a Chinese state-owned enterprise and one of the largest coal producers in China. The company has also been investigated for corruption by Chinese authorities.
In April, the NSW government finalised negotiations with Shenhua to walk away from its mining lease in the region following protests by local landowners and communities over environmental concerns.
Shenhua was paid $100 million by the government to surrender the project. The government also acquired 6,000 remaining hectares of land to be maintained for wildlife and plant species.
NSW Deputy Premier Peter Barilaro said, “The NSW Government is committed to making NSW the number one investment destination for mining in Australia, but we need to find a balance, and this decision will deliver certainty to farmers and the Liverpool Plains community while guaranteeing protection to parcels of land, with high-value biodiversity.”
“From the strategic release of land to support coal exploration in the right areas, to unlocking investment opportunities for high tech metals and critical minerals, mining remains a key priority for the state.”