Money

Sumitomo buys stake in Isaac Plains

The coal stockpile at the Isaac Plains Mine, near Moranbah.
The coal stockpile at the Isaac Plains Mine, near Moranbah. Contributed

JAPANESE giant Sumitomo has swung in to give Aquila Resources $430 million for its share of the Isaac Plains mine near Moranbah.

In the same breath, it has taken a 50% stake in most of Aquila's exploration sites across the state.

These purchases are part of a greater plan for the Japanese firm - which operates in 65 countries - to pick up projects in Central Queensland.

The deal was announced to the ASX on Tuesday morning.

Although subject to conditions, the parallel deal means Sumitomo will be able to cherry-pick which exploration sites it wants a significant share in.

Once formalised, these partnerships will allow Aquila to funnel its money towards a sprawling iron ore project in Western Australia while creating a powerful joint venture to develop more sites in the Bowen Basin.

Aquila will no longer hold any stake in Isaac Plains open-cut mine - it will now be jointly owned by Sumitomo and Brazilian miner Vale.

However that deal will still hinge on Vale giving its permission for Sumitomo to buy, and a further thumbs-up from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

According to Aquila's ASX announcement: "The sale (of Isaac Plains) follows a number of approaches with respect to Aquila's interest in Isaac Plains, with the Sumitomo offer ultimately providing the most compelling value proposition."

It was a busy morning for the Perth-based Aquila.

On top of its other news, it reaffirmed a plan to offload the Washpool Hard Coking Coal project near Blackwater, likely to fall into the hands of an Indian consortium.

Sumitomo for its part is expected to keep quiet on its buying spree, with a spokesman confirming the deals but declining to elaborate.

The company already has a stake in a wide selection of Queensland projects, some of them particularly high profile.

It has four joint ventures with Xstrata Coal including Oaky Creek, Newlands, Rolleston and a foundation piece of the Wandoan project.

Sumitomo also owns part of Hail Creek with Rio Tinto.

The company spokesman said investing in coal was "a core strategy of our company".

"It's just natural for us to be targeting this area (the Bowen Basin)."

Topics:  isaac plains mine, mining, moranbah


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