Mitsui buys 49% in Australia's Cockatoo coal project

Japan's Mitsui & Co has acquired a 49-per cent stake in the Woori coal project in Queensland, Australia, for A$37.25 million developed by Cockatoo Coal Ltd., Mitsui said yesterday.

The mine field, with estimated reserves of 40 million tons, is located in the Woori section of 4,000 square-kilometer-wide Surat Basin coalfield.

Mitsui is one of the most diversified and comprehensive trading, investment and service enterprises in the world, with 155 offices in 66 counties as of May 2011.

Cockatoo Coal is the most recent entrant into the ranks of Australia's coal producers aiming to become a major coal miner by targeting the rising global demand for coal, particularly from Asia.

Last year Cockatoo in a consortium along with Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) and steelmaker Posco signed a deal for interests in five undeveloped coal assets in Australia for A$580 million ($500 million) in cash from diversified global miner Anglo American. (See: Anglo American to divest five Australian coal mines to POSCO, KEPCO for A$580 mln)

Mitsui acquired the coal project for $0.90 per 'measured resource tonne', a much higher price then Cockatoo's current enterprise value of around $0.30 per resource tonne.

Mitsui has a long history of ownership of project interests in Australia's coal sector in both Queensland and the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales.