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Aquila exec: Deal with Baosteel good for both
Updated: 2009-09-04 15:56

Strategic cooperation between Australia's Aquila Resources and China's Baosteel focuses on win-win outcomes, an Aquila Resources executive told Xinhua on Thursday.

Russell Tipper, general manager of iron ore for Aquila, said in a telephone interview with Xinhua that the agreement signed on Aug 28 between the two provides a foundation for long-term strategic cooperation and will ease the burden of cash to develop Aquila's key projects like the coal project in Queensland and the iron ore project in Western Australia.

He said some of Aquila's projects will require large amounts of capital to bring it into production.

Asked whether the agreement will be approved by Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), Tipper said: "I am confident the FIRB will agree that Chinese Baosteel's participation would be good for both their projects and Australia."

After the transaction, Baosteel will take a 15 percent stake in the Australian miner and will appoint one director to the board of Aquila. Tipper believes this will not cause concern, saying that "Baosteel will have up to 19.9 percent of Aquila's stake and it will not control Aquila."

Tipper said with the access to low-cost Chinese financial institutions as outlined in the agreement, Aquila plans to expand two major projects, the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project in Western Australia and the Eagle Downs Coal Project in Queensland, adding that "this will include the building of Aquila's own railway networks and a new port."

In an earlier interview with The Australian, chairman Poli said that he believes "the strategic co-operation is all about assisting Aquila, and not managing or controlling them."

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"China is very keen to invest in Australia and, with this transaction, we should have no problems with FIRB," he said.

Under the agreement, Baosteel will invest as much as A$285.6 million ($237 million) in Aquila via a placement of up to 43.95 million shares at A$6.50 a share which Tipper has said "was acceptable to both parties to achieve the win-win outcome."

Aquila Resources is headquartered in Perth, Western Australia, which is home to Australia's abundant iron ore resources. The company has major coal, iron ore and manganese projects in Queensland, Western Australia and South Africa.

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