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WA failing to make the case for miners

AN annual survey of global mining executives by the Canada-based Fraser Institute has found falling support for Western Australia as a place to do businesss. WA was ranked at number 18 in the survey, while South Australia’s efforts to streamline red tape for the mining community are bearing fruit, with the state ranked fifth. The Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Alberta were considered to have the best policy environments in the world for mining investment, according to the Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2006-2007. Manitoba topped the survey for the first time, knocking off perennial favourite, Nevada, which fell to number three after a six-year run on top. Alberta retained its number two ranking for the third year in a row. “Our experience with the survey has shown that, above all, mineral exploration companies value stability and certainty when it comes to government policy,” said Fred McMahon, co-ordinator of the survey and the institute’s director of trade and globalization studies. The survey was undertaken before the recent controversy over the lobbying activities of former premier Brian Burke and former minister Julian Grill, which led to the resignation of former resources minister John Bowler. A particular issue was controversy surrounding Precious Metals Australia, which regained control over the Windimurra vanadium project from Swiss company Xstrata after Mr Bowler’s intervention in a parliamentary inquiry. The survey results may have been influenced by two other controversial policy issues. One was Mr Bowler’s decision to grant the Shovellana iron ore deposit to industry giant Rio Tinto despite the objections of junior explorer Cazaly Resources, which had pegged the deposit after Rio’s exploration licence lapsed. A second matter was the state government’s plan to reserve up to 20 per cent of the state’s gas reserves for the domestic market, despite objections by oil and gas producer Woodside.

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