THE Federal Government has given the green light to investment agreements signed late last year between Yilgarn Infrastructure and five major Chinese companies.
The Foreign Investment Review Board approval marks an historic first for Australia – Chinese business relations and brings the estimated $3 billion Oakajee Port and Rail Project in Western Australia’s Mid West region a step closer to construction.
The approval paves the way for the implementation of the investment agreements, which represent the first time such a big grouping of Chinese State-owned enterprises have invested in an Australian company.
Yilgarn Chairman Dr John Saunders said the FIRB approval followed the completion of full financial and legal due diligence by the Chinese companies and was a vital step in confirming Yilgarn’s capacity to finance the development.
The investment underpins the 25% equity Yilgarn plans for the port and rail project.
The 75% debt-finance component is supported by China’s EXIM-Bank and the China Development Bank.
Definitive feasibility studies — the final study work required before construction can start — are underway and Yilgarn is working closely with its foundation customer Midwest Corporation on the State Government’s bid process for the Oakajee Port.
“China’s involvement with Western Australian partners in delivering this vital infrastructure to develop Western Australia’s Mid West resources sector presents opportunities that extend beyond economic benefit,” Dr Saunders said.
“By forming alliances between Australian and Chinese port and rail engineering expertise to develop this project, Yilgarn offers local companies a pathway to establish new relationships that will provide business opportunities in WA, offshore in China and other parts of the world where Chinese companies are active.
“At a regional level, local content through employment, manufacturing and service provision is a priority. Skills training and community development for Geraldton and the towns within the project footprint will form an important component of Yilgarn’s development — benefits that will be felt long into the future.
“Yilgarn’s Oakajee Port and Rail Project is not just a plan to build vital infrastructure, it is a sustainable, long-term development plan that will benefit the Mid West, the State and the nation long into the future.”
Dr Saunders said the Oakajee Port and Rail Project would be owned independently of the region’s mines and operated to service multiple mine customers in WA’s Mid West on an open-book, open access basis.