Shandong Geo-Mineral buys Australian farmland

The Chinese minerals business has bought a crayfish and wine producing farm in Australia's Kangaroo Island, as it seeks to diversify its assets.

A Chinese government-backed minerals company with agricultural chemicals and biologicals subsidiaries has agreed to buy a South Australian freshwater crayfish and wine-producing farm for more A$1.6 million ($1.2 million; €1.0 million).

Shandong Geo-mineral’s investment and asset management unit is acquiring the 289-hectare Andermel Marron Farm on Kangaroo Island as an agricultural and tourism investment. The property sells indigenous crayfish known as ‘marrons’ and Two Wheeler Creek wine.

Shandong Geo-mineral said it was looking to diversify its business in the face of a difficult iron ore market. The company’s main business to date has been in ferrous metal. Two of its most profitable subsidiaries include Shandong Baoli Biotechnology, a livestock veterinary drug, feed additive, and feed-additive premix company, and Binzhou Lizhiyuan, a biotech business focusing on corn starch, by-products and syrup.

“Andermel is a diverse regional business combining agriculture, food, wine, hospitality and tourism activities in one enterprise,” said Jesse Manuel, who facilitated the sale at property agent Colliers International.

The sale was first agreed during the Australian trade mission to China in May last year, and is now set to close following due diligence, according to Colliers.

He added that Colliers is seeing increased investor interest in Kangaroo Island agricultural properties, in part due to a planned extension of its airport and other investment in infrastructure worth around A$171 million.

Chinese investment in Australian agribusiness reached A$375 million last year, according to a KPMG report.