The mining sector is expected to enjoy greater investment and jobs growth for at least the next few years thanks to a new three-year freeze on resources royalties, an industry body has said.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) praised the Queensland Government’s decision not to raise taxes on coal and mineral exploration until at least October 2024.
QRC now plans to hold talks with its members to consider the government’s request for the industry to contribute $70 million to a Regional Infrastructure Fund in the next three years.
“The industry will respond to the government on its proposal as soon as possible,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said in a public statement.
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No deal would hurt jobs
Had the government not frozen mining royalties, taxes would have jumped and the industry’s ability to hire new staff would be hindered, he said.
“Any increase in royalty taxes is a disincentive for investment in regional areas and would mean lost job opportunities for all Queenslanders,” Macfarlane said.
The state’s mining sector employs one in eight Queensland workers, representing an equivalent of 315,000 full-time jobs.
Necessity of fund questioned
State Treasurer Jackie Trad confirmed the government would commit $30 million to the fund and hopes the industry will contribute to reach a total of $100 million by the year 2022.
Trad warned the industry might face a royalty increase if mining companies do not support the fund, a move the QRC believes is unnecessary.
“The State Government is already on track to receive more than $5 billion in resource royalties this financial year – a record and almost $1 billion more than they expected from their current budget,” Macfarlane said.
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington criticised Trad’s pressure tactics for being deceptive.
“Queenslanders won’t be fooled by Jackie Trad, who told the resources industry that her new mining tax was voluntary, but if they didn’t pay it, Labor will raise mining royalties anyway,” Flecklington said in a public statement. “This new tax will put even more pressure on the resources industry and will cost jobs.”
She argues the State Government has already collected $1 billion in coal royalties that could be invested into infrastructure immediately.
“The new levy is to hide the fact Labor is squandering the existing royalties,” she said. “These mining companies are already bound by community service obligations and this is quite simply double-dipping.”