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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Joseph Gutnick's a rock star in India

MINING magnate Joseph Gutnick has struck a $US100 million deal to supply Queensland phosphate to India's largest fertiliser company.

Under the deal, the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative will invest $US100.5 million ($A102.9 million) over the next two years through shares and options in Mr Gutnick's US-based Legend International Holdings.

Legend, which was initially involved in diamond exploration, has phosphate interests in Queensland's Georgina Basin, near Mt Isa, and plans to produce a five million tonne per year phosphate rock mine.

Phosphate rock is a key fertiliser-making ingredient.

IFFCO represents 50 million farmers and supplies a quarter of India's fertiliser.

The cooperative has agreed to buy four million tonnes, or 80 per cent, of the concentrated rock phosphate Legend will produce.

It comes amid record prices for phosphate, in excess of $US400 a tonne, as global demand exceeds supply.

Mr Gutnick said he hoped the deal would also create opportunities to develop fertiliser products down the track and supply for Australian farmers.

But for now the man dubbed "Diamond Joe" is concentrating on having phosphate rock ready to ship to India within two years.

Mr Gutnick and the IFFCO delegation have been meeting with Queensland government representatives this week to discuss the development, which will also involve the construction of an on-site benefication plant and a slurry pipeline to Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Mr Gutnick described the meetings as "encouraging" and was confident of securing mining leases to progress the project.

Legend will list on the US Stock Exchange soon, but Mr Gutnick said there were no immediate plans for a dual listing in Australia.

"Certainly in the long term we intend to come here because I'm an Australian and it's an Australian project, but at this stage our support came from (US investors) and that would be very hard to get in Australia and we will continue that route."

Legend last month raised $US105 million through a private placement in the US. Mr Gutnick said the fact that the project helped supply fertiliser to a country "that's in dire need of food" was a "positive from a humanitarian point of view".

1 comment:

Project Finance Modelling Resources said...

Great article about the legendary Joe Gutnick! In project finance I have come a across numerous fantastic projects but Gutnick's work here is a story that a lot of people would be very proud to achieve. Well done.