Royalty hike or no deal, Barnett

Barnett in face-off with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett will face off with the head of Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore operations, Sam Walsh, this morning, as the Premier pushes for an increased iron ore royalty rate.

Barnett yesterday met with BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers for the first time since BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto announced that they wanted to merge their Pilbara iron ore operations.

Barnett told the media recently the deal could not go ahead without the agreement of the State Government, and that he would be pushing for a better deal for the State.

“There would need to be major changes to the State Agreement Acts, so this cannot be done without the agreement of the State Government and ultimately the State Parliament,” Barnett said.

“In that sense we will be looking for a royalty regime which is consistent with all new mines. In other words, getting rid of some of those 1960s concessions where iron ore was basically sold at half price to the wealthiest mining companies in the world.”

The Premier recently expressed concern about a merger between Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

“I will take some convincing that this is in the best interests of Western Australia going into the future,” he told ABC Radio.

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