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Keppel to Costa del Sol: Gina's grand island plan, but let's see the paperwork first

Business

Billionaire miner Gina Rinehart wants to turn Great Keppel Island into a Queensland version of Puerto Banus, in Spain, a playground for Europe’s uber rich.

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But the deal is far from certain.

Her company, Hancock Prospecting has entered into an agreement to potentially acquire the Great Keppel Island development project from Tower Holdings, “subject to a myriad of state and local government approvals” and it seemed to indicate that weaving its way through the bureaucracy and winning the lease was not a given.

However, Hancock’s strategy coincides with news that Andrew Twiggy Forrest had also snapped up the lease for Lizard Island, also pending State Government approval.

As yet no applications to transfer the leases has been received by the State Government.

Hancock said the potential redevelopment of Great Keppel Island was an opportunity with Australian investment to make it one of the best resorts in Australia, with its special location and white sandy beaches.

“We hope to be able to make it better than it has ever been, with a world class year round beach club, sandy bars, shopping and more experiences circling around a marina modelled after successful marinas like Puerto Banus,” Hancock Prospecting said.

“We envision a year-round swimmable beach club and an underwater bar being able to bring the benefits of overseas tourism to Australia.

The transaction is subject to conditions being satisfied, including suitable State and Local Government approvals being provided that allow viable redevelopment of the Island.

The Government also investigates the financial and managerial capability of the applicants, which is done through an independent auditor. Previous applications for Great Keppell have fallen at this hurdle. The island has been back and forth between Tower Holdings and prospective buyers, the most recent was a Sunshine Coast developer, Altum Properties, but there has also been Chinese and Singaporean interest.

Keppel has effectively been on the shelf for 13 years.

“In addition, whilst a number of primary approvals are in place, there are also further approvals that require substantial work prior to any construction being considered. Work will commence on these areas, which will require expenditure before confirming this exciting project can proceed,” the Hancock statement said.

“With the announcement of the 2032 Olympics to be held in Brisbane, the redevelopment of Great Keppel Island presents as a great time to showcase Queensland as a premium, world class destination.

“Currently, for various reasons, Great Keppel is not a showcase for Queensland. We wish to maintain and improve its natural beauty and tourist facilities, subject to all government approvals, enabling this to make possible, for Queenslanders and others to enjoy for generations to come.

“Thanks to the mining industry, Hancock, an Australian mining and agriculture company, has the money to invest to help to make Queensland shine, prior to 2032, subject to all relevant government approvals.

“Gina Rinehart is very passionate about Australia and Queensland and hopes that her vision is shared by the Queensland community. She is excited to bring the best of what she has experienced overseas to Great Keppel Island, and the Hancock group, subject to approvals, is excited to be able to share that with Queensland and all Australians.”

The plan to turn Great Keppell in to something like Puerto Banus would be an achievement. That resort port is in Spain’s Nueva Andalucia region of the Costa del Sol.

It was built by a property developer in the 1970s and is one of the region’s largest entertainment districts attracting 5 million annual visitors.

 

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