Rinehart beefs up industry

Gina Rinehart’s investment in the cattle industry could lead to a massive boost for farmers and more jobs in the South West, according to industry sources.

Australia’s richest woman last week became a partner in a $65 million WA beef industry investment that included the purchase of defunct abattoir Clover Meats in Waroona – once one of WA’s biggest meat processors.

This comes after mining billionaire Andrew Forrest bought iconic WA company Harvey Beef last month for $45 million, as part of a plan to export beef to China.

Mrs Rinehart’s part in the joint venture with Milne AgriGroup owner Graham Laitt, has made her a significant rival to Mr Forrest in the cattle trade and could see Clover Meats operational in the future.

Under the venture, Mrs Rinehart bought a 50 per cent stake in two stations, Liveringa and Nerrima which cover 470,000ha in the heart of the Kimberley.

A spokesman for Mrs Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, said there were no immediate plans for the Waroona abattoir, but re-opening it was an option for the future.

“Hancock Prospecting has already been in the WA pastoral industry for generations with ownership of Mulga Downs Station in the Pilbara, ” he said.

“Mrs Rinehart has been a long-time supporter and promoter of the WA pastoral industry and its potential to service the growing demands of our neighbours in Asia.

“We are excited to be a part of the expansion of an already successful exporter.”

WAFarmers Federation meat council president Jeff Murray said the investment would create jobs and an increased demand for beef at a better price.

“It’s got the ability to produce millions of dollars for the industry, ” he said.

“It is only a small portion of the Australian industry, but it will give beef producers more options.

“In the future the grain industry will also benefit with higher quality beef being the outcome.”

Clover Meats closed in 2009 as a result of poor producer support and the effect of the Global Financial Crisis on skin prices.