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[SYDNEY] Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart has expanded her cattle business, buying two cattle properties in the country's north, as the billionaire seeks to profit from the Asia's fast-growing food market.
The cattle properties, located southwest of the town of Katherine in the Northern Territory, were bought from one of Indonesia's largest importers of cattle, Japfa, the Rinehart-controlled Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd said.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"I am very excited about the acquisition of these two cattle properties and to be investing in Australia, particularly in the Northern Territory," Ms Rinehart said in a statement issued by Hancock on Thursday.
"I am passionate about our agricultural industry and developing Northern Australia," she said.
The combined purchase of 550,000 hectares (1.36 million acres) and 40,000 head of cattle marks the latest agricultural acquisition from the mining magnet after Ms Rinehart bought a Western Australia cattle station last year.
Ms Rinehart is one of a handful of mining magnates that have shown increasing appetite for Australian agriculture assets amid a transition of the country's economy - the so-called "mining to dining boom".
Australia has exported record amounts of beef to China over the last three years, while a deal to sell live cattle to the Asian market signed last year is expected to be lucrative.
The increased Asian demand for Australian agricultural assets is politically sensitive, igniting fears over food security and leading to stronger government restrictions.
A China-led consortium seeking to buy Australia's largest agricultural land owner, S Kidman & Co, will hold off on a fresh bid amid concerns it could be derailed by a new, more protectionist, government, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.