Australia's mining boom to continue?

Oct. 26, 2011 at 2:42 PM
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PERTH, Australia, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Mining investment could shift from Australia to other regions, industry leaders warned.

At issue is Australia's proposed carbon tax and mineral resources rent tax on coal and iron-ore profits, excessive regulation, poor infrastructure investment and labor shortages, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"If we choose not to face up to the reality that Australia needs to be more cost effective in this world and not be mesmerized by our current good fortune with strong commodity prices, our good fortune regrettably will not last," Gina Rinehart, executive chairwoman of Hancock Prospecting said Wednesday at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth.

About 1,200 delegates from 54 commonwealth countries and 16 other nations are participating in the three-day meeting.

Economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel, in its "Mining in Australia 2011 to 2026" report released this week, projected investment in Australian mining to reach $85.7 billion by 2015-16.

But Australia isn't unique in its wealth of resources, Rinehart said.

"There's minerals all over this world and we've got to be able to ship them out competitively otherwise countries will buy elsewhere," she said.

Of particular concern, she said, is the emergence of the African mining sector.

"Countries in Africa are telling the world, and the world is listening, we are open for business," Rinehart said.

About 140 Western Australia mining and resource companies have operations in Africa.

Australia has faced severe criticism over its mineral resources rent tax on coal and iron-ore profits, expected to be introduced next year.

Mark Cutifani, chief executive of AngloGold Ashanti, speaking on the sidelines of the forum, said the Johannesburg gold miner ranked Australia as one of the "top sovereign risk countries in the world," adding that its government policy has demonstrated failure in terms of taxation policy, Australian Mining magazine online reports.

For his part, Australian Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, also speaking at the forum, said that resource development is "dynamic" and policy and regulation must keep pace with evolutions in practice.

He defended Australia's proposed resource tax saying, "We have consulted with industry on the design of these reforms and investment has not been deterred, in fact it continues apace."

He said mining investment had jumped from $36.1 billion last year to $48.5 billion this year and is projected to reach $82.5 billion next year. Australia had more than $206.5 billion in capital committed in advanced resources and energy projects, with foreign investment accounting for up to 80 percent of capital in the country's resource projects.

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