SYDNEY (AFP) – Mining magnate Gina Rinehart Saturday signed a deal to invest Aus$500 million (US$438 million) in an Australian dairy project to tap into the multi-billion dollar Chinese infant formula market.
Rinehart, who recently entered into a joint venture to export beef to Asia, said her majority-owned Hope Dairies would produce pharmaceutical-grade infant formula and UHT, or long-life milk, at a processing plant in Queensland.
The agreement was reached between Rinehart’s mining firm Hancock Prospecting and the Queensland state government.
“Australia has some of the finest agricultural products in the world and we need to position ourselves to meet the demands of our region,” Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, said in a statement.
Chinese state-owned engineering firm CAMC and Hope Dairies’ Hong Kong-based directors Dave Garcia and Dano Chan have minority stakes in the company.
The firm has been buying up about 5,000 hectares of dairy and arable land in south-east Queensland over the past year, and plans to process 150 million litres (39 million gallons) annually.
Hope Dairies said it would also buy additional milk from nearby local producers to add to its supply, with exports expected to start in late 2016.