Brisbane entrepreneurs Lachlan Broadfoot and Grant Moyle are set to join the ranks of commodities boom multi-millionaires, agreeing to sell their Salva Resources business that runs the Queensland coal site being developed by Gina Rinehart and India's GVK.
Mr Broadfoot, 35, Mr Moyle, 37, and Queensland's wealthy Mitchell family have agreed to sell the five-year-old business, which now employs 220 people in five countries, to privately held US engineering group HDR.
Salva would not reveal the size of the cash deal, but with Mr Broadfoot, a former Rio Tinto process engineer, agreeing to stay on in the company he has grown to $50 million of annual turnover, the payout for the 30 per cent stakes the pair each hold in the business will be substantial.
Mr Broadfoot started the business in 2007 in India, where he had been working with Rio, before moving back to Brisbane the following year to set up a head office.
In 2010-11, the business was named the ninth-fastest growing Australian company by BRW
after it boosted its Australian revenue by 140 per cent to $13.8m.
The biggest contract Salva has won in its short life has been its rise to site operator and geological consultant at the big Alpha Coal project in which Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Coal has sold an 80 per cent stake to India's GVK.
"We had relations with GVK in India and we were instrumental in them coming to Australia and the introduction with Hancock," Mr Broadfoot said yesterday.
After working in Rio's Queensland coalmines where he completed a business degree working at nights on site, Mr Broadfoot was promoted to the coal marketing department, where he travelled extensively to India.
"I was excited by the opportunity to link the technical work with Indian companies there looking to go abroad with coal assets, which is how it started off," he said.
"I just figured I'd set up a business there in India in 2007."
The company now has offices in Brisbane, India, Indonesia, Britain and Mongolia, and has done work for all the major miners.
Queensland's Mitchell Group, which is run by Nathan Mitchell, had operations in India and joined the company 18 months later.
The Mitchell family, who in 2008 sold their drilling business to AJ Lucas for $150m, were listed as worth $260m in 2011 by BRW.
HDR is an 8000-strong engineering company based in Omaha, Nebraska. Mr Broadfoot will become HDR's global mining head, based in Brisbane, while Mr Moyle will leave the group and join Mitchell Group.
"HDR doesn't have much of a mining presence at the moment, so this is a rapid expansion by them into the sector," Mr Broadfoot said.