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Industry heads meet during political uncertainty

By: Sonia Haridas
28 September, 2010

New talks, to discuss the changes in the planned Australian Mining Tax, will begin soon.

The Mining laws were expected to go to parliament late next year, but will now be subjected to negotiation with the independents in the newly formed minority government.

The Next Generation Mining Committee understands, better than most, that they need to prepare for whatever the outcomes of new talks will be, while moving forward and investing in the places that will ensure continued growth.

The latest Next Generation Mining Committee meeting took place in Perth. John Nicolaou, the Chief Economist at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Western Australia, spoke of the 'good times ahead'. He went on to discuss the strong belief that Western Australia will return to the high growth path that was seen as the norm throughout the last decade. Nicolaou believes that this will be backed by the strong links with the rapidly developing economies in Asia.

Duncan Calder, the Australian China Business Council President, also confirmed this when he discussed the business relationship between Australia and China. Over the last 12 months Australia has seen China become its biggest investor. Asia's insatiable appetite for resources, backing its growth, means that they alone have been a major contributor to Australia's mining boom. Calder believes it is the way that Australia positions itself in the market now, that will define its relationship with the continent into the future.

Brendon Pearson, Minerals Council of Australia Deputy Chief Executive, discussed the more contentious issue of the day: the mining taxes faced by Australia. PM Julia Gillard has already stated that the mining tax will not be scrapped, but companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, who were in attendance at the NG Mining Australia summit (hosted by GDS International), will stand to benefit from the scrapping of a mining profits tax and carbon trading plans.

Pearson discussed the current press interest in the industry, as government and politicians search for a public consensus.

Australia's Mineral exports are now paying billions of dollars in carbon costs while competitors in Europe, Asia and the United States face no such charges. The failure of emissions legislation means that the Australian parliament now has an opportunity to design a carbon pricing scheme that will work in harmony with global initiatives to reduce emissions and foster new technologies, in turn protecting Australia's exports for the foreseeable future.

Despite the current political upset, Australia's economy grew at its quickest pace for the last three years, in the second quarter of 2010. These results were based on a 5.6 percent rise in export volumes generated by the mining boom.

The talk among the committee was a definite appreciation for what has been achieved since the start of the year, and a belief that the good times can continue. Australia is now one of the strongest developed economies in the world and the executives in attendance at the NGM Australia summit were reluctant to put this down to a one-off mining boom.

Source: NG Online News (APAC)

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