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Fed's MRRT 'increase' may impact Olympic Dam: Abbott
14/06/2012 - The federal government will expand and increase the mining tax if it wins the next election and that could put the Olympic Dam expansion at risk, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says.
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Uranium and copper mined at the BHP Billiton project in South Australia's north is not currently included in the government's mineral resources rent tax (MRRT).
But Abbott said that might not always be the case.
"This government, of course, will clobber other parts of the mining industry, it will increase the rate of the mining tax," Abbott told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.
"Because they need the money.
"So of course they are going to increase the mining tax and that means that projects like Olympic Dam are at risk."
BHP Billiton is expected to make a decision by the end of 2012 on the proposed $30 billion expansion at Olympic Dam which will create the world's biggest open-cut mine.
The state government has approved the expansion but legislation passed by state parliament requires the company to make a decision by the end of the year.
Abbott said Prime Minister Julia Gillard should give BHP Billiton a guarantee that the MRRT would never be imposed on copper and uranium.
Premier Jay Weatherill said Abbott's comments were "empty rhetoric" as the state government had already been given an assurance that the company would make a decision on the expansion by the end of 2012.
"This is simply Mr Abbott feigning an interest in South Australia," he said.
Deputy opposition leader Mitch Williams welcomed Abbott's comments.
"It is essential that all impediments to the Olympic Dam expansion are removed," Williams said in a statement.
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