Aussie Resourcehouse signs 60-bln-dlr deal with China

SYDNEY: Australian miner Resourcehouse said Saturday it had signed a 60 billion US dollar coal deal with China, describing it as the country's "biggest-ever export contract."

Resourcehouse chairman Clive Palmer said the company had negotiated a 20-year agreement to supply China Power International Development (CPI) with 30 million tonnes of coal per year from a proposed mine in central Queensland.

"This deal with CPI is Australia?s biggest ever export contract," Palmer said in a statement.

Palmer, Australia's fifth-richest man, said he had awarded the engineering and construction management contract for the thermal coal mine, named "China First" to Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC).

"MCC will manage a syndicated group consisting of Sino Coal International Engineering Group, China Communications Construction Company (First Harbour) and China Railway Group Limited (CREC) to build Australia?s largest coal mine along with the required export infrastructure," the billionaire magnate said.

The Export-Import Bank of China had financed a six billion dollar loan, Palmer said, but emphasised the project was 100 percent Australian-owned.

"This is Australia's largest single, non-syndicated, finance deal and the interest from China highlights the strength of the project and the benefits for Queensland and Australia in developing a new world-class coal region," he said.

Executive director Phil McNamara said the "once-in-a-century project," which is expected to begin construction later this year, would include open-cut and underground mines and a 495-kilometre (308-mile) rail line.

Queensland premier Anna Bligh said the project would create tens of thousands of jobs, with annual royalties in excess of 700 million dollars to flow to the state government from 2014.

Palmer plans to float Resourcehouse on the Hong Kong stock exchange next month in a bid to raise up to three billion dollars for coal, iron ore and oil and gas projects in Australia and oil and gas exploration in Papua New Guinea.