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Chinese Government-owned mining giant buying large tracts of prime agricultural land.

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Media Release Mark Coulton Federal Member for Parkes Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Water Resources and Conservation.

16th June 2009

Chinese Government-owned mining giant buying large tracts of prime agricultural land

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton says he is extremely alarmed to hear reports that a Chinese Government-owned mining giant has reportedly purchased large tracts of prime agricultural land in western NSW for the purpose of long wall coal mining.

It is believed that the Shenhua mining corporation is endeavouring to purchase huge parcels of land that fall within the Watermark exploration lease, adjacent to the Liverpool Plains.

He said the underground aquifers that sustain prime agricultural land in the Liverpool and Breeza Plains would be placed under enormous threat if Shenhua were to proceed with its plans to establish one of NSW’s biggest mining operations.

“It is very disturbing to hear reports that Shenhua has declared its intention to purchase all of the land in the Watermark exploration area near Gunnedah less than 12 months after paying $300 million for the exploration licence,” he said.

“I have grave concerns about the sale of nearly 200 square kilometres of land in my electorate effectively to the Chinese Government to remove up to one billion tonnes of coal for their own purposes.”

He said properties may have already been handed over to the state-owned Chinese corporation.

“I have received reports that four or five properties may have already changed hands with a settlement to be reached at a later date,” he said.

“I would encourage landholders in the area to be extremely cautious if they are signing a contract as it may put them in a compromised position at a later date.”

Mr Coulton said a Reuters report this week quoted Shenhua board secretary Huang Qing as saying that the company would not proceed with its planned purchase of any other overseas mines unless it was successful with its one in the Parkes electorate.

“Effectively when you have one of the world’s largest coal mining companies saying that they will not go ahead with its extensive global mining operations unless it is successful in the Watermark area then alarm bells should start ringing,” he said.