NT station buy grows Rinehart pastoral empire
Iron ore baron Gina Rinehart continues to build her northern pastoral empire by purchasing another cattle station in the Northern Territory.
Hancock Prospecting this week confirmed it had acquired the 171,000ha Willeroo pastoral property, about 100km west of Katherine in the NT.
Willeroo holds about 20,000 cattle and is next to Aroona, which Hancock acquired earlier this year, allowing the stations to operate as a combined unit.
Mrs Rinehart said Willeroo would also complement Hancock’s other properties in northern Australia.
She said the intention was to replicate measures at Willeroo that had been successfully introduced on other Hancock stations, and were currently being rolled out across Kidman properties.
Hancock Agriculture chief executive David Larkin said with continued investment and the introduction of new technology and cattle-welfare programs trialled successfully at the Hancock properties, the beef portfolio would grow.
It presented greater tools for management and economies of scale, and the opportunity to increase stock numbers and productivity.
The Willeroo purchase means Mrs Rinehart owns 29 agricultural properties, which includes a stud farm, two feedlots, export yards and a range of properties across WA, NT, South Australia, Queensland and NSW. Last year, with Chinese partners, Mrs Rinehart bought the S Kidman & Co stable of pastoral properties.
The move follows fellow magnate Kerry Stokes’ exclusive negotiations to sublease two Kimberley cattle stations owned by the financially stricken Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation.
The deal would see Mr Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity sublease the 80,000ha Fairfield and 405,000ha Leopold Downs stations, near Fitzroy Crossing.
Mr Stokes owned Leopold in the 1980s with business partner Peter Murray.
Most of Leopold and parts of Fairfield were damaged in a fire that this month affected four Kimberley cattle stations.
It is understood ACE was one of three parties invited to put a submission to the Bunuba people last week but had since entered into exclusive negotiations.
“At the moment, you have some of the most run-down, yet beautiful stations in the Kimberley,” a source familiar with the deal said. “There is a real opportunity for ACE with its capital and past history of turning stations around to get involved while providing a cash injection for the Bunuba people.”
There is expected to be a benefit for the local people in terms of employment, construction and traineeship opportunities. The length of the sublease is yet to be finalised but could span 20 years.
In a similar arrangement, ACE subleased part of the 300,000ha Charnley River Station in the Kimberley from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. ACE will fence off an area to exclude cattle from river systems and areas important for endangered species.