Mineral Resources has taken a 12.78 per cent stake in iron ore takeover target Aquila Resources and will now work with the company and other stakeholders to deliver the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project.

Run by mining veteran and BRW Rich list member Chris Ellison, Mineral Resources swooped on the stake previously owned by fund manager M&G Investments.

The share raid comes as Aquila’s board mulls a $1.4 billion takeover bid from Chinese steel giant Baosteeel and Brisbane-based rail group, Aurizon.

Mineral Resources, which is a mining services and processing group, in a statement said that it has already “invested considerable time developing a business case to deliver a fit for purpose solution” for the West Pilbara project, including a “total mine to port development plan”.

“MRL considers that a meaningful shareholder in Aquila was appropriate to ensure MRL was well positioned to be actively involved with the other key project stakeholders, and now intends to fully engage in collaborative discussions to ensure the project is brought into production as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.

Mr Ellison, who was valued at $525 million on the 2013 BRW Rich 200 list, said: “We have the financial capacity to make a meaningful capital contribution towards the development of the project and will now proceed to engage with all major shareholders, including Aquila and Baosteel, to facilitate the best outcome possible.”

Mineral Resources said the share purchase was funded from existing cash reserves.