Miners rally against WA gold royalty hike to save jobs

Western Australian gold industry workers took to the streets of Kalgoorlie yesterday to protest the state government’s budget decision to increase its gold royalty rate.

The rally launched an industry-wide campaign to stop the state government’s plan to lift the gold royalty rate from 2.5 per cent to 3.75 per cent.

More than 1000 gold industry workers and local Kalgoorlie business people stopped work to participate in the rally.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) chief executive officer Reg Howard-Smith said the rally sent a clear message to the WA Government that jobs must come first and an increase in the royalty rate or taxes will cost jobs.

“More than 25,000 men and women work in our gold mines and many more work in industries associated with the gold sector – from drillers to geologists to truck drivers,” Howard-Smith said.

“These are people who make a difference for Western Australia – they pull their weight, they support their families, they pay their taxes and they deserve a fair go.”

A tiered royalty rate will be introduced from January 1 2018, according to the WA Government, with the increase to be determined by the Australian gold price.

The current 2.5 per cent rate will continue to apply for each month when the gold spot price – averaged over a month – is $1200 ($US966) an ounce or less. An increased rate of 3.75 per cent will apply, however, when the gold spot price is above $1200 an ounce.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) acting CEO Graham Short said increasing the royalty rate would cost not only jobs but also much needed investment.

“The economically senseless decision to increase the gold royalty rate by a massive 50 per cent is a decision that beggar`s belief, and not from one of the world’s leading mining jurisdictions,” Short said.

“The additional revenue to be collected from the increase represents around 0.2 per cent of the total budget for 2017/18.

“This decision could result in reduced exploration, job losses and increased sovereign risk in WA. Some reports indicate that over 3000 jobs could be lost.

“Then to top that, the government appears to be happy to allow 60 per cent of the revenue raised to go to other Australian states and territories through the GST re-distribution process.”

Mining companies which supported their workforce to attend the rally included Northern Star Resources, Newmont Mining, KCGM, Newcrest Mining, Saracen Mineral Resources, Gold Fields, AngloGold Ashanti, Ausdrill and more.

Howard-Smith added that gold miners operating in WA were aware of the economic challenges confronting the government, but the blunt instrument being used to increase the royalty rate would destroy jobs.

“The bottom line is increased royalties and taxes will cost jobs. It will result in the closure of mines, it will see a dramatic reduction in exploration and it will reduce the number of new jobs our industry can create,” Howard-Smith said.

“WA jobs must come first. The gold industry will stand united in this fight to secure and create jobs for Western Australians and calls on all parties to support the gold sector in its campaign.”