$1b rural land sales in CH region

From Dysart to Springsure, more farmers are selling up to the mines. Photo: Courtesy of Ray White Emerald
From Dysart to Springsure, more farmers are selling up to the mines. Photo: Courtesy of Ray White Emerald

CENTRAL Highlands landholders struggling to ward off encroaching mining companies have surrendered and begun selling off their properties, with collective sales of almost a billion dollars.

The strategic acquisitions by the resources sector, from Dysart south to Springsure, have opened an avenue to landholders, some of who have sentimental attachments to their properties and have entered in to lease-back agreements managed through the North Australian Pastoral Company.

According to Ray White Emerald rural agent Russell Lindley, more than $900 million worth of land has been bought in the past 18 months, mostly by mining companies.

"If it isn't a mine sale, it is people re-entering the market following a sale to the mines," Mr Lindley said.

"But it's a low percentage of those who sold to the mines re-entering - a lot of them have lease-back agreements."

Capella farmer Paul Murphy said the agreements gave landholders the chance to maintain their rural lifestyle and livelihoods.

He said while farmers would prefer to remain the owners of their land, lease-back agreements enabled a mix between the rural and resource sectors.

"It's not healthy for the community, but it works for the time being," Mr Murphy said.

"(It) a good job managing the properties but from a community sense, ownership is always preferred."

Mr Ludley said he personally had sold five mining-related properties in the past financial quarter.

"Nearly all the activity has been driven by the mining industry," he said.

"The mines really started cranking up their buying. They seemed to open up a bit and have been more willing to buy ahead of themselves.

"They seemed willing to accelerate their forward acquisition from about the beginning of the second quarter last financial year.

"They got aggressive, and I would say it was probably governed by coal prices."

But another trend was emerging, with landholders seeking to re-enter the rural sector after selling their land, Mr Lindley said.

"It is fair to say people re-entering the market with mine money are prepared to pay premium price for the right property," he said.

"Buyers trying to re-enter the market are looking for properties that suit their needs and not all do.

"They are being very selective in what they are buying."

But Mr Lindley said the rampant acquisitions wouldn't last.

"I don't anticipate (mining companies) will continue buying like they have," he said.

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