BHP again slams mining tax proposal, calls Grylls ‘misleading’

BHP Billiton Australia’s head of minerals, Mike Henry, has slammed WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls for providing ‘misleading’ information over the company’s finances following Grylls’ proposed mining tax.

He plans to increase the current 25c per tonne production rental fee on iron ore to $5 a tonne to help address the state’s budget deficit.

Henry has opposed the tax due to its potential impact on investment, jobs, and the company’s competitiveness.

He said the proposed tax would undermine the company’s plan of developing the South Flank deposit in the Pilbara; adding nearly 20 per cent to its cost base, according to The West Australian.

Grylls, however, argued that a company email sent by Henry to staff at BHP indicated they made around $10 billion a year in before tax profits. He also denied deliberately downplaying the company’s overall royalty and tax contribution, which, according to Henry, has surged 1000 per cent over the last decade.

Speaking to 6PR radio, Grylls said, “I don’t say that they’re too profitable.”

“I’m saying the 25 cent fee set in the 1960s…that’s never been adjusted and I think that’s unfair.”

Henry, however, considers Grylls’ stance to be misleading.

“The way the proposal is being brought forward by Mr Grylls is misleading at best,” Henry said.

A BHP spokeswoman disagreed with the company’s alleged $10 billion a year profit, indicating WA iron ore revenue was $13.5 billion –  with $4.7 billion in underlying earnings – in FY 15/16.

This year BHP recorded a US$6.2 billion loss in their latest full year year report.

The proposed tax has been opposed by WA Liberals and state opposition.

It has also been countered by the Minerals Council of Australia, with chief executive Brendan Pearson saying it would make WA the highest taxing iron ore state in the world.

Deputy prime minister and minister for agriculture and water resources Barnaby Joyce also disputed the higher tax, stating it would discourage investment, AAP reports.

Joyce also said it was an issue to be settled by WA politicians.