Chinese assess SI mining projects

Qinghua Huo
Qinghua Huo
Giant Chinese energy company Qinghua Group - with more than $12 billion of mining assets - is assessing several billion-dollar projects across the South Island, with the potential for generating thousands of jobs.

The west coasts of both the North and South Islands, with onshore and offshore iron-ore deposits, are being assessed for possible sites for a port purchase and steel mill construction.

The South Island West Coast's specialist hard coking coal is a key ingredient for steel manufacturing.

Edward Lancaster
Edward Lancaster

Otago and Southland lignite deposits could be used for petrochemical or briquetting plants.

Qinghua's joint venture partners Greywolf Gold-mining, incorporated in March this year, are spearheading project analysis, saying Qinghua has $10 billion to spend in New Zealand in 2011.

Greywolf is proposing a separate, more than $200 million dual listing on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges in the new year.

Sydney-based Greywolf chief executive Edward Lancaster confirmed the Qinghua Group proposals when contacted yesterday, following widespread speculation during last week's annual New Zealand branch of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy conference in Auckland.

"We had hoped to make announcements in the new year, but the [three New Zealand] visits by Qinghua have been attracting attention," said Mr Lancaster, whose company directors include brother Michael and son Jolian.

Mr Lancaster said meetings were being sought through the offices of Prime Minister John Key and Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee, but the Pike River disaster had prompted deferral of meetings "for several weeks", he said.

The west coasts of both the North and South Islands, with onshore and offshore iron-ore deposits, are being assessed for possible sites for a port purchase and steel mill construction.

The South Island West Coast's specialist hard coking coal is a key ingredient for steel manufacturing.

Otago and Southland lignite deposits could be used for petrochemical or briquetting plants.

Qinghua's joint venture partners Greywolf Gold-mining, incorporated in March this year, are spearheading project analysis, saying Qinghua has $10 billion to spend in New Zealand in 2011.

Greywolf is proposing a separate, more than $200 million dual listing on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges in the new year.

Sydney-based Greywolf chief executive Edward Lancaster confirmed the Qinghua Group proposals when contacted yesterday, following widespread speculation during last week's annual New Zealand branch of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy conference in Auckland.

"We had hoped to make announcements in the new year, but the [three New Zealand] visits by Qinghua have been attracting attention," said Mr Lancaster, whose company directors include brother Michael and son Jolian.

Mr Lancaster said meetings were being sought through the offices of Prime Minister John Key and Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee, but the Pike River disaster had prompted deferral of meetings "for several weeks", he said.He said any projects involving Qinghua would be subject to Overseas Investment Office approval and would be compliant with the Resource Management Act, and all regulations applicable to mining in New Zealand.

Mr Lancaster described Qinghua Group as the largest private Chinese mining company and "the Chinese version of BHP Billiton in Australia", the world's largest diversified resource group.

Mr Lancaster said Qinghua was also looking at prospects in Russia, South America and Africa.

In New Zealand, Central Otago coal seam gas deposits are also in the mix, possibly for power generation to places such as Queenstown or Alexandra.

The group is also thought to be seeking permit holdings in ironsand on the Kapiti coast and Manawatu River.

There are also plans to acquire a coking coal field near Collingwood.

Mr Lancaster confirmed nothing had been bought by the Qinghua Group, but at present Greywolf was acting on behalf of Qinghua, also known by its Anglicised name China Kingho.

The focus of the current negotiations is to buy rights to an estimated 2 billion tonnes of southern lignite, half of which could be converted to petro-chemicals or lignite briquettes.

Greywolf has also separately acquired coal permits near Buller, covering about 5000ha.

"We [Greywolf] are paving the way for Qinghua. They are the one with the [financial] power behind them," Mr Lancaster said.

Qinghua Group bosses have visited Central Otago, the West Coast and Marlborough in recent weeks looking at coal seam gas for electricity generation, hard-coking coal deposits with a view to building a steel mill, and lignite for petrochemical conversion.

Chartered flights across the South Island have included meeting several southern mayors and visits to mine sites, Mr Lancaster said.


 

Qinghua Group
Owned by: Entrepreneur and chairman Qinghua Huo.

Number of employees: 64,000.
Total assets: Valued $NZ12 billion.
Mineral resources: 22 billion tonnes of coal and 800 million tonnes of iron ore (estimated).
Plant: At least eight major coal, gas and petrochemical projects in China and Mongolia.

 


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