10 Feb 2010

Doubt over Queenland coal deal

11:49 am on 10 February 2010

Doubt is being raised over whether a Queensland coal company has actually signed Australia's largest export deal to China.

The ABC reports that Chinese companies are denying there's any deal.

The Sunday Mail newspaper in Queensland reported at the weekend that businessman Clive Palmer had signed "the biggest export deal in Australia's history".

According to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, the $A70 billion agreement would deliver 7500 jobs and allow the China First coal mine to export 30 million tonnes of coal from central Queensland to China every year for 20 years.

However, confusion set in when the Hong Kong Stock Exchange received an announcement from China Power International Development, the company said to be buying all the coal.

In a statement, the company said it did not have an agreement with Resourcehouse and it warned shareholders and potential investors to exercise caution when dealing with the Australian company.

Then Mr Palmer issued a correction - it seemed he had accidentally named the wrong Chinese company. It was in fact China Power International Holding with which he had done the deal.

But CPI Holding has now also denied such a deal, saying it's a framework agreement only.

Ms Bligh sought to play down the issue, saying the deal was real and she had seen the proof of it.

China Business consultant Professor Mike Berrell says the confusion is probably to do with cultural differences about how the arrangment is being interpreted.

The ABC reports Mr Palmer flew into Perth from Beijing on Tuesday night and will hold a press conference on Wednesday.