VENTURES AFRICA - China’s Hanlong Mining Investment Pty Ltd. has cleared one of three key hurdles in a long-delayed $1.3 billion takeover of Australia’s Sundance Resources. By agreeing key terms with Cameroon for developing the Mbalam iron ore project, Hanlong now seeks to go ahead with the Sundance bid.
However, the mining company also needs to secure approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board by June 30, and line up funding from China Development Bank by August 31, which is seen as the biggest challenge.
Hanlong is targeting Sundance for its $4.7 billion Mbalam iron ore project on the border of Congo and Cameroon, a resource vital to helping China ease its dependence on Australia and Brazil for iron ore.
China’s desire tap new sources of iron ore in Africa has so far been overlooked by China Development Bank as it continued to overlook Hanlong’s A$1.34 billion bid, first announced last July.
According to a source, China Development Bank is nervous about making big investments in the current uncertain global environment, especially when it involves a privately owned Chinese company, with the bank stating that it was waiting for Congo and Cameroon to seal mining agreements, now in hand, and waiting for approval from Australia, now also expected to come through.
“We now look forward to finalising the remaining elements of the (agreement) and paving the way for the people of the republics of Cameroon and Congo to reap the benefits of this world-class project,” Sundance Chairman George Jones said in a statement.
Sundance also disclosed that Cameroon Prime Minister Philemon Yang has written to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao calling for China’s support for the Mbalam project, crucial to the Central African powerhouse’s future as it includes building a 510 km (320 mile) rail line and a deepwater port.