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Australian billionaire Rinehart to invest in dairy exports to China
[SYDNEY] Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart is expanding outside mining with a A$500 million (US$435 million) investment in a dairy joint venture that aims to export infant formula to China, a spokesman said on Friday.
The venture, Hope Dairies Ltd, plans to begin exports in the second half of 2016 and may produce as much as 30,000 metric tonnes of formula a year.
Rinehart's partner is believed to be Chinese industrial giant China National Machinery Industry Corp, The Australian newspaper reported on Friday. News of the venture was first reported by Bloomberg.
Rinehart's firm Hancock Prospecting is looking to buy about 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres) of farmland in the state of Queensland for the venture, Jason Morrison, a spokesman for Hope Dairies, confirmed in an email.
The Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation, which has been working with Rinehart's firm and the state government for months, said the project would include big investments in farms and milk processing facilities in the state, where dairy farmers have been hit by a local price war. "China presents 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,"Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation President Brian Tessman said. "The project is looking at properties in the wider Southeastern Queensland region in places like South Burnett to provide other support farms for the project," he told Reuters.