The world’s two biggest miners, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, have written to their staff, warning jobs and investment are at risk if a radical proposal to impose a $7.2 billion tax upon them succeeds.
As part of a plan to wrest back the leadership of Nationals WA, Pilbara MP Brendon Grylls proposed raising $7.2 billion over four years by lifting the production levy struck in state agreements in the 1960s from 25 cents per tonne to $5 a tonne. It would only apply to BHP and Rio and would be on top of the billions of dollars in royalties the miners already pay.
The Liberals govern in an alliance with the Nationals, which have three cabinet seats. In a letter to staff, Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said there was no grounds for a new mining tax and “put jobs at risk”.
“This new discriminatory mining tax would have a devastating impact on our business at the worst possible time in the commodity cycle,” Mr Salisbury wrote.
BHP has also fired off a missive to its iron ore workers, telling staff the tax would “impede our ability to contribute to future jobs, growth and investment” in WA.
Mr Grylls has argued the miners have not been paying their fair share and should shoulder the burden of returning the state to surplus. Falling commodity prices and dwindling GST income has exposed a big spending Liberal-National government, which has presided over record debt and deficit.
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