Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart has reached agreement with the Queensland Government over a 500 million dairy export deal into the Chinese infant formula market, reports The Australian.
The deal will see Hope Dairies – majority owned by Rinehart’s main company Hancock Prospecting – produce pharmaceutical grade infant formula and ultra-high temperature processing (UHT) milk at a Queensland processing plant.
According to the statement issued by Ms Rinehart, Hope Dairies will also acquire 5000 hectares of south-east Queensland dairy land and plans to process 150 million litres of milk a year for export from 2016.
The $500 million Australian dairy project, which was sealed after months of speculation that Australia’s richest woman was looking to get into Chinese formula exports, is expected to create 350 construction jobs and 480 full-time positions.
“This is a significant and welcomed boost for the Queensland dairy industry and the investment will bring substantial employment and dairy processing capacity back to the state,” Ms Rinehart said.
Chinese state-owned engineering firm China National Machinery Industry Corporation (Sinomach) and Hope Dairies’ Hong Kong-based directors Dave Garcia and Dano Chan have minority stakes in the company.
The announcement was welcomed by industry group Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation, which qualified the deal as “a real opportunity for our industry to form close partnerships to supply high quality dairy products to their growing population, and in particular infant formula.”
This was Ms Rinehart’s second investment in agriculture this year following her A$40 million investment for a 50% stake in two cattle stations in Western Australia.