Gold miners accuse government of using false data for mining tax

The gold mining sector has slammed the Federal Government’s new mine tax, saying it ignores the difficult task companies in the industry have.

The gold deposit discovered at the Tropicana Mine in Western Australia seven years ago is the last new deposit to be found in Australia.

Integra Mining’s Chris Cairns told the ABC they have been overlooked in the new minerals tax (MRRT), which is supposed to maintain a high level of exploration.

He said the figures the government has used from Geoscience Australia to justify the new tax are flawed.

The figures show there are 29 years worth of known, demonstrated, economic gold resources in Australia, but Cairns says the figure is closer to 10 years worth.

The research came, in part, from a submission into the mine tax Policy Transition Group from Cairns himself, he says, as well as some other miners and the Australian Institute of Geoscientists.

He says the government and Geoscience Australia is are out of touch with the realities of exploration and what it is like on the ground.

"People in the industry are completely aware that the rate of exploration and discovery in Australia is not keeping up with production," he said.

"At some point in time in Australia, that must lead to a decline in the industry, a decline in the wealth generation capacity in the industry for Australians as a whole."

He believes explorers are not requesting subsidisation from Australian taxpayers, but they do believe investors should be able to receive a tax break if they spend money on exploration.

"It’s not that much of a different structure to incentives provided to other industries, for example, the movie industry is quite similarly incentivised.

"The issue here is that mining is a major driver of wealth in the country, it benefits all Australians.
"The health of the industry is fundamental to our ongoing economic health.

"The gold industry has identified clearly that there is a crisis appearing in terms of low discovery rates, and the industry will be in decline to the detriment of Australian people, unless something is done."

The Minister for Resources, Martin Ferguson, denied the claims and has issued a statement.

"The Government recently announced that it had accepted all recommendations of the Policy Transition Group it established to examine issues relating to the MRRT and exploration incentives.

"The PTG comprised of people with a very broad range of experience in the Australian resource industry. All recommendations of the PTG were unanimous,” it reads.

"With respect to exploration incentives, the groups’ conclusions were not based on any single piece of evidence or submission presented to it, but made after careful consideration of all arguments put to it.

"Geoscience Australia material formed only one of the factors relevant to the PTG’s decision.
"The PTG and Australian Government consider it entirely appropriate to rely on advice from Geoscience Australia, an organisation with a world class reputation."

Last week Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest slammed the mining tax, saying it has been designed by BHP Billiton, , and Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett questioned the Commonwealth control over the tax on Wednesday.

Image: Monash University

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