More than US$350 billion of finance has been earmarked for projects in China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne was told earlier this week.

Jean Dong, Chief Executive of the Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative, told the conference that US$100 billion had been allocated by each of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS New Development Bank. A further $52 billion has been allocated from the People's Bank of China. Other Chinese banks had committed almost US$35billion.

Such sums made it one of the biggest development opportunities in history, Ms Dong said.

She said that the project would require an extra 150 million tonnes of steel which indicated the scale of opportunity for Australia. There would be further opportunities from the economic growth the project would stimulate in countries along the way.