Australia buys back farmland sold to China for coal exploitation

CANBERRA, Australia — A state government says it will buy back most of a Chinese mining company’s coal exploration license for 262 million Australian dollars ($201 million) to help protect some of Australia’s most fertile farmland.

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Harvesters process corn on the Liverpool Plains

The New South Wales state government said on Wednesday it will buy back 51.4 percent of state-owned China Shenhua Energy’s license covering the Liverpool Plains, northwest of Sydney.

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Liverpool Plains

Australian subsidiary Shenhua Watermark Coal paid the government AU$300 million in 2008 for exploration rights over the prime farmland, angering local farmers and agriculture advocates.

Resources Minister Don Harwin says Shenhua will be left to explore the mountain ridges that border the flatland.

Shenhua said in a statement it has “expressed its disappointment,” but will continue with plans to mine the smaller area.

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he Long Paddock, Liverpool Plains Australia

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