China State Construction Engineering Corp (CSCEC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with privately-owned New Zealand firm BBI Group, to build a new port and rail line for a yet-to-be-approved iron ore mine in Western Australia.
The Balla Balla project could prove extremely beneficial to other mining businesses in the region, as the infrastructure element could help link stranded iron ore mines with export markets.
Should the mine receive the requisite approval, the port and rail project, with a reported value of A$6 billion (US$4.6 billion) will go ahead.
The project is expected to employ more than 3,000 workers during the construction phase, and ultimately create 900 permanent jobs once the mine is in operation.
Given the fact that both Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull were both in attendance at the MoU signing ceremony, it seems there is strong political backing to ensure the project moves forward.
BBI Group chairman Jon Young said the partnership between his firm and CSCEC represented a significant milestone for the Balla Balla project and a step towards BBI reaching a final investment decision and a start on construction in 2018.
He said, “To have signed such an important MOU for our project in the presence of the Australian Prime Minister and the Chinese Premier confirms the strength and international significance of the Balla Balla project”.