State’s mine call blasted as ‘highway robbery’
RESOURCE companies have been told to cough up $70 million for a "voluntary" infrastructure fund or risk years of uncertainty over the threat of royalty hikes.
Miners are expected to give their answer today after Treasurer Jackie Trad yesterday laid out her offer of a three-year rate freeze only if they agree to help fill a $100 million Community Infrastructure Fund.
The Federal Government accused Ms Trad of "highway robbery", but she denied she was forcing miners to comply by holding the threat of higher taxes over them.
Ms Trad the Government would chip in $30 million and there would be no royalties increase for one year, regardless of whether companies agreed.
But if they turned down the offer, the issue of royalty increases would be revisited next year and every year, she said.
"There will be no coal royalty increases in this year's Budget, but if there is an agreement from the mining companies around this Community Infrastructure Fund then we will make an agreement to freeze royalties for three years," she said.
It's understood the offer made by Ms Trad to coal and minerals companies did not first go to Cabinet.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan described the levy as "highway robbery" from a bankrupt Labor Government.
"The Government has the gall to say it is friends with the resources sector," he said.
"Well I don't know about Jackie but I don't tell my friends 'buy this round of beer or I might not take your call tomorrow'."
The Senator this morning posted a mock-up of a movie poster on his official Facebook page.
The tagline reads "Give us your money, or we'll cut Queensland coal jobs".
The companies that attended the meeting - BMA, Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Peabody, Glencore and Jellinbah - are yet to speak publicly.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said he had to consult with 150 resource companies today before the industry gave its response.
"It's the Treasurer's offer, we're prepared to consider it," he said.
But he flagged a royalty raise could be much more costly for the sector.
"She (Ms Trad) could raise royalties from anywhere from a quarter of a per cent to 2 per cent," he said.
"If she raised them 2 per cent, it would be a billion dollars (per year). That's on top of the $5.3 billion in royalty taxes that the industry is paying currently."
Resources companies claim the fund may impact the investment decisions on future mines, particularly thermal coal.
Miners pay a 7 per cent fee on all types of coal traded under $100 a tonne, rising to 15 per cent when the price rises to more than $150 a tonne.
Thermal coal has been trading at under $100 a tonne.
The fund would pay for works like roads, flood mitigation and community centres in regional mining communities.
The announcement comes as the state budget has been hit by freefalling revenue from stamp duty, a string of urgent expenditure commitments and the demise of funding promised by federal Labor if elected.