China's ICBC has announced a reduction in its lending to Australia's resource sector due to concerns that the mining boom is nearing an end.
The Australian reports that ICBC's local head Han Ruxiang said he anticipates "troubling times ahead for the sector," and that the bank has "realised we need to diversify away from resources."
Beijing-based ICBC is China's biggest bank as well as the world's largest bank in terms of both profit and market capitalization. It has operated a branch office out of Sydney for four years, issuing a total AUD$4 billion in loans during that period.
ICBC is especially well-placed to know whether or not the Australian mining boom is on track to lose momentum, as it is a Chinese state-owned bank both privy and beholden to the decisions of the China's policy-making elite, while China also remains the primary driver of the Australian resource sector's fortune.
Han says ICBC plans to diversify into the agricultural sector in anticipation of a "slowdown in mining projects."
ICBC's announcement arrives while speculation and rumors of an end to Australia's China-backed commodities boom remain fresh, with resource minister Martin Ferguson making an impromptu yet frank declaration of its conclusion at the end of August.