Big miners offload $2 billion, China buys it all

BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American have offloaded almost $2 billion in two recent deals, with Chinese firms picking up most of the new mining and energy projects.

According to Dow Jones Rio Tinto and Anglo American have sold their combined 74.5 per cent stake in South African copper producer Palabora Mining for $446 million.

The companies announced plans to sell the business last year because it didn’t fit their investment strategy, and a consortium that includes three Chinese investors has picked up the asset.

China’s state-owned Hebei Iron and Steel Group owns 35 per cent of the new consortium, and privately owned Chinese company General Nice Development will also take 25 per cent.

The state-owned Tewoo Group and South Africa’s state-backed Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa will also own 20 per cent each.

BHP Billiton has also sold its 8.3 per cent stake in the Browse LNG project to state-owned Chinese oil giant PetroChina for $1.5 billion.

The deal increases PetroChina’s huge interest in Australia’s energy assets, with the company already a key stakeholder in multibillion-dollar investments at Gladstone.

According to The Australian BHP made the exit from Browse due to its opposition to developing an onshore gas processing facility at James Price Point.

Development at James Price Point is facing strong opposition from conservationists, and BHP previously favoured piping gas south to existing infrastructure along the North-West Shelf.

In a statement BHP head of petroleum, J. Michael Yeager, said the sale was an "excellent opportunity for both companies".

"PetroChina has acquired an interested in a world class gas resource and BHP Billiton has exited a non-strategic asset," he said.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.