09/11/2004 - 21:00

Miners split on review

09/11/2004 - 21:00


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Representatives from the various sectors of the State’s mining industry are yet to fully back the Government’s offer to review local government mining-related costs.

Miners split on review

Representatives from the various sectors of the State’s mining industry are yet to fully back the Government’s offer to review local government mining-related costs.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies is one group to support the Government’s proposal. The association, whose membership consists mostly of junior exploration companies, has indicated it wants to take “the next step”.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy, however, representing mainly the bigger end of town, says it will seek further discussions with AMEC before taking a stance.

The WA Local Government Association also wants to discuss the issue, but with the State Government, as it claimed to have only heard of the proposal this week when contacted by WA Business News.

The Government last week recommended a review of mining-related costs to local authorities and the degree to which rising cost may warrant an increase in rates.

It said it would only consider such a review if prevailed upon by the industry.

The Government’s proposal was in response to growing concern in the mining and exploration industry about increasing shire rates for mining tenements.

AMEC last week called for an independent appeal process to arbitrate between local governments and tenement holders, following what it claimed were “massive increases” in some rates.

This week AMEC said it would write to the Government in support of a review.

“While we are pleased, we were not surprised that they [Government] are entertaining the idea given the magnitude of the rate increases,” AMEC chief executive Justin Walawski told WA Business News.

“It is clear the mining industry is being singled out compared to other sectors.”

He said that if a review was established the association would hope to bring its members’ costs to the table and would also support an independent review panel.

CME chief executive Tim Shanahan said the chamber was encouraged by the Government’s awareness of the issue but would meet with AMEC to discuss the proposals before committing to a review.

He said CME supported local governments setting their own rates but would be concerned if mining companies were being specifically targeted.

Mr Shanahan said the chamber had been monitoring a number of issues concerning mining operations in regional WA, including the issue of rating.

It was essential to maintain a good relationship between local communities and operating resource companies, he said, but it was also important that mining’s contribution to regional communities and the State was recognised.

“Last year more than $30 million was voluntarily reinvested into the community by resource companies in WA, over and above rates, taxes and royalties and all the other charges associated with doing business in WA,” Mr Shanahan said.

BHP Billiton contributed $7.6 million to Pilbara communities last financial year and plans to spend up to $100 million over the next 10 years.

WALGA president Bill Mitchell said the association only heard about the Government’s concerns or suggestion of an examination this week and needed to examine the issue further with the State Government.

But he also said the current rating appeal process was appropriate and the association was opposed to erosion of local governments’ ability to raise rates.


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