Shenhua Watermark Coal has moved to sell off its Liverpool Plains landholdings with expectations of $120 million after the New South Wales government paid the company to give up its mining licence.
They comprise three aggregations, Breeza, Tambar Springs and Barraba, covering a combined 16,570 hectares in the north west’s Gunnedah region.
Shenhua collected most of the 20 properties that make up the holding in 2009 and 2010 with plans to develop an open-cut mine. They are currently leased to seven tenants who both occupy and manage various titles under independent lease agreements.
CBRE Agribusiness’ David Goodfellow and James Auty have been appointed to steer the expressions of interest campaign.
Goodfellow said the sales process would provide local farmers with equal opportunities to compete against larger corporate agribusiness investors.
“A landholding of this size and annual productivity is very suitable for a combination of local farming businesses to acquire individual sites to add onto their existing operations,” he said.
“It will also be appealing to the corporate agribusiness sector who can see the huge economic benefits of properties with very large scale. In addition, the site offers potential benefits from the creation of carbon credits, which adds to the overall financial returns.”
Breeza is the largest of the three aggregations at about 14,246 hectares and made up of 14 properties, in addition to three dwellings and an office located in the township of Gunnedah. It is used for dryland cropping of cereals, legumes and cotton and beef cattle grazing, with the opportunity to irrigate, benefited by access to water access entitlements.
The circa 1,208 Tambar Springs aggregation comprises two non-contiguous holdings within two kilometres of each other. They are both use for mixed dryland cropping and beef cattle production.
The Barraba aggregation has a total land area of 1,114ha and comprises two non-contiguous, nearby landholdings. Approximately 583 hectares is considered grazing land, with the balance comprising remnant vegetation. The land area is principally used for beef cattle production.
Auty said the Gunnedah region was well-known for its highly productive soils, its wide range of well-proven agricultural systems and its typically even distribution of rainfall throughout the year.
“This means the region can grow pastures for breeding and fattening livestock right through the year as well as growing both summer crops and winter crops for grain and/or fodder – lending these landholdings to an incredibly wide range of purposes.”
Auty added that some of the land is also highly suited to native forest regeneration for the production of carbon credits, which are quickly becoming very valuable given the current corporate demand to achieve zero net emissions targets.
Expressions of interest close on 26th August.
“We have owned the majority of these assets for over ten years and have formed good relationships with the farmers who have continued to work the land during this time,” Shenhua representative Chris Walker said.