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Australian Defence blocks Chinese mine investment

Australia's Defence Department vetoed Chinese investment in a proposed mine within an Outback missile testing range on security and safety grounds, the defence minister said.

world Updated: Sep 24, 2009 15:24 IST

Australia's Defence Department vetoed Chinese investment in a proposed mine within an Outback missile testing range on security and safety grounds, the defence minister said.

The rejection of state-owned Wugang Australia Resources Pty Ltd's bid to buy half of the proposed Hawks Nest magnetite mine within the Woomera military range is the second time this year that Australia has blocked Chinese investment in the area.

In March, the government blocked China Minmetals Nonferrous Metals Co. from buying Australian miner Oz Minerals Ltd for AU$2.6 billion on security grounds because one of the assets, the Prominent Hill gold and copper mine, was within the range precinct. China Minmetals eventually bought all of Oz Minerals apart from that mine for AU$1.7 billion.

Mining companies have welcomed Chinese investors as falling commodity prices left some unable to pay their debts. But the deals have sparked debate over whether Beijing-controlled companies should be allowed to control Australia's key mineral resources.

Defence Minister John Faulkner said while other mines had been allowed within the so-called Woomera Prohibited Area, the problem with the Hawks Nest mine was that it was in the missile firing line.