THE mining magnate Clive Palmer has declared he will not sell his holdings in the Galilee Basin following a rush of Indian interest in the lucrative coal region.
The Indian company GVK Power yesterday confirmed it had signed an agreement with Hancock Prospecting, run by Gina Rinehart, to exclusively negotiate the sale of two mines in the basin, worth up to $8 billion.
The deal could mean the power station operator becomes the second Indian company to take over coal mining rights in the Galilee Basin, in central Queensland, after Adani bought Linc Energy's assets last year.
Mr Palmer, whose company Mineralogy also owns coal mining rights in the basin, said he would not be following Ms Rinehart and selling up in Queensland.
''I don't know what the deal is there,'' he said of the Hancock-GVK negotiation, ''but we'll be developing our projects and going on with some other ones.
''There's more money in developing than selling.''
Mr Palmer claimed there was 10 to 15 times more money to be made from extraction projects in the area than was currently being exploited, potentially worth $60 billion.
The 35 million people each year in India and China moving from rural to urban areas was evidence of the demand for resources, he said.
The Galilee Basin, which is still three years from exporting its first haulage, is viewed by some as too difficult to operate in because of the logistics in transporting the coal.
But Mr Palmer, whose company is one of three planning to build their own railways to the Abbot Point Coal Terminal north of Bowen, rubbished the notion. ''If [WA] can do it, it's hard for me to accept Queenslanders can't,'' he said.
Mr Palmer denied Hancock Prospecting's decision to sell out signalled a lack of confidence in the basin. ''I don't think it's got anything to do with endorsement. It may be to do with money.''