Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull walks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang along the Sydney Harbour foreshore in front of the Opera House. Photo: Reuters/David Gray

A state-owned Chinese construction giant on Friday sealed a deal to build a A$6 billion (US$4.6 billion) mining infrastructure project to tap into resource-rich northwestern Australia.

Sydney-based BBI Group (BBIG) said the agreement with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) to develop the mine, port and rail project would create a new gateway to the Pilbara region for iron ore exporters.

China – the world’s biggest commodities consumer – is Australia’s largest trading partner, with the signing taken place during a meeting between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Premier Li Keqiang in Canberra.

“To have signed such an important MOU for our project in the presence of the Australian Prime Minister and the Chinese Premier confirms the strength and international significance of the BBI Project,” the firm said in a statement.

“BBIG is currently engaged with a number of potential Chinese iron ore… customers.”

Some 3,300 jobs are expected to be created during the construction period from 2018, BBI said, with 900 permanent positions on offer when the facilities are operational.

The BBI Group is majority owned by the Todd Corporation, one of New Zealand’s largest companies.