JUST as tenders closed for the sub-lease of her Pilbara station Mulga Downs, mining and agricultural businesswoman Gina Rinehart has expanded her agricultural beef production in New England, New South Wales, with the purchase of another property.
Pastoral Properties, a subsidiary of the billionaire's mineral exploration and extraction company Hancock Prospecting, has bought several properties in the region, as part of the tycoon's diversification into Wagyu beef.
The most recent purchase was the historic 3900 hectare Warrabah station, between Kingstown and Manilla and the acquisition takes the total number of Ms Rinehart's New England properties to six.
Other properties include three Lyndhurst properties, totalling 3280ha and two Kingstown properties which includes the 17,800ha Sundown Valley, purchased for its breeding and growing capacity.
"Warrabah station is a high quality property that will allow increased scale of operations on our existing NSW properties and will support further growth," Ms Rinehart said.
"New acquisitions such as this will allow greater operational flexibility and herd retention, which is very important when dealing with the challenging conditions bought on by the current drought.
"I am pleased to invest in rural operations that will continue to grow our 2GR Wagyu business to meet the growing demand for our very high quality and delicious 2GR Wagyu beef."
Hancock Agriculture chief executive officer David Larkin said Ms Rinehart had moved into agricultural land purchases because she is passionate about beef production.
"There are considerable players in the global meat export market," Mr Larkin said.
"We are expanding our development into that market and we have 23,000 Wagyu on the ground."
Ms Rinehart owns one of the world's biggest full-blood and purebred Wagyu herds, with more than 8000 head.
Late last year, Hancock Prospecting confirmed it had purchased New England grazing property, Glendon Park, for the Wagyu business.
Glendon Park is about 40 kilometres north east of Armidale, NSW and covers 3234ha.
In a statement released at the time of last year's purchase, the company said Glendon Park would be used to grow the 2GR Wagyu herd and work in conjunction with recent acquisitions to continue to grow the 2GR Wagyu brand.
The Wagyu bred on Glendon Park will be finished and processed in Australia, before being delivered into mainly local and some overseas markets, including the Nobu restaurants in Australia and overseas.
Cattle will be transported to an abattoir near Warwick, Queensland, where they will be processed before being exported via Brisbane.
The 1607ha Gunnee feedlot, near Inverell and Maydan, a feedlot outside Warwick, will provide the infrastructure to process meat at the abattoir.
The company also owns 17 pastoral and feedlot properties in Australia with a herd capacity of 219,175 head, comprising more than eight million hectares of outback cattle-grazing properties.
In WA, Ms Rinehart's company owns the pastoral leases of four properties, three in the Kimberley; Fossil Downs station of 400,000ha and a capacity of 20,000 head, Liveringa station (owned in a partnership) measuring 265,000ha with 28,000 head capacity and Nerrima station (owned in a partnership) of 203,000ha and 13,000 head capacity, as well as Mulga Downs station of 312,730ha with a 7000-8000 head capacity.
Mulga Downs, Wittenoom, is an iconic property for the Hancock family, as it was where Ms Rinehart's father Langley Hancock grew up and first started out running pastoral properties at age 26, back when it was a sheep and wool producing property.
The property, now a cattle backgrounding station, was being offered with the option to purchase the existing herd of 7000 mixed head of cattle including about 3000 breeders, as well as basic plant and equipment.
The sub-lease of the property is being handled by Landmark Harcourts region corporate and business development manager - West, Glenn McTaggart, who declined to comment due to confidentiality.