Gina Rinehart’s iron ore mine in Australia has finally reached financial close, securing US$7.2bn of debt.
The mine, majority-owned by Hancock Prospecting, a vehicle controlled by Rinehart, Australia’s richest woman, is expected to start producing ore in late-2015.
In total, it has attracted support from 19 commercial banks and the export credit agencies Kexim, K-sure, JBIC, Nexi and US Exim.
The 19 commercial banks on the deal include Australia’s ‘big four’ ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac, and BTMU, Mizuho Bank and SMBC of Japan. The Japanese banks have contributed a total US$700mn, covered by Overseas Untied Loan Insurance from Nexi. Their portion of the debt has an 11-year tenor.
BNP Paribas and NAB acted as advisors to Roy Hill, while Rothschild advised the other equity partners.
Daryll Hockey, a spokesperson for the mine, tells GTR that the names of the other banks involved have yet to be disclosed due to “a few sensitivities”, but an announcement is expected in the near future.
In a statement, Gina Rinehart said: “The project has strong partners with international experience in finance, engineering, construction, marketing and logistics which has assisted in the attraction of support from the international financial community.”
In 2012, the mine attracted equity investment from a group of steel majors, including Marubeni Corporation of Japan, China Steel of Taiwan and Posco of South Korea. It’s the involvement of Posco, which owns 12.5% of the mine, which is seen by analysts as crucial in securing the debt finance.
The Korean company is attempting to lock-in a supply of iron ore for its steel mills over the coming years, in order to alleviate the risks of price fluctuation. It is expected to be a major offtaker of the 55 million tonnes of iron ore Roy Hill is expected to produce.
Concerns over the surplus of iron ore on the market have led to a sustained slump in the commodity’s price. This is thought to have been a major reason for the delay in securing debt finance. However, banks are likely to have been reassured by the presence of some of the steel sector’s biggest names. Combined, the equity partners have pumped US$3.3bn into the facility.