Chris Salisbury is Rio Tinto’s new Mr Iron Ore and he spent a reinforcing couple of hours in Canberra on Wednesday evening preaching impressively to the converted.
As he should, Salisbury took ample advantage of the opportunity of the Minerals Council’s annual gathering in the nation’s capital to rhetorically entrench the line that Rio and its competitor BHP Billiton has drawn in the Pilbara’s red earth over proposals that would move the longstanding fiscal goalposts that sustain the world’s biggest iron ore province.
After offering the Pilbara’s development as an example of the way that commerce, government and host communities can cooperate to create national wealth, Salisbury again turned on the intensifying skirmishing between two political arms of Western Australian conservatism and the miners that founded the state’s iron ore export industry.
Before naming the target of the big diggers’ ire, Salisbury offered a broader characterisation of dangerous and uncertain political times that have left the mining industry demonised in the name of “bad policy”.
“There have been times when seemingly the first political instinct has been to demonise – rather than talk to – our industry,” Salisbury complained to his audience of senior miners and politicians.
“When the use of selective and misleading data about what we pay to government has been used to justify bad policy.
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