Think twice about taking on miners (opinion)
Written on the 14 March 2017
Last September, as his proposed $5 per tonne iron ore tax enjoyed healthy popular support, a confident WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls sat down with representatives from the big end of the mining sector and told them he was ready for a fight.
And a fight was what he got.
It looks increasingly likely that Grylls could lose his seat of the Pilbara, making him potentially the only incumbent Nationals MP not to retain his seat.
His tax proposal inspired an advertising blitz by mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, akin to that which dogged the first Rudd government and its proposed resource super-profits tax, and may have cost him his job.
But the miners, too, were disingenuous at times.
Their iron ore businesses are some of the most profitable mining assets anywhere in the world and still would have been so if the new tax was introduced.
Their suggestion that the tax would have cost piles of jobs and prompt them to invest in other parts of the world isn't really borne out by the profit margins generated out of their iron ore units.
At a time when WA is feeling the pinch, BHP and Rio Tinto continue to generate mountains of cash.
Rio Tinto last month booked a $6bn profit for 2016, while BHP delivered a first-half profit of $4.2bn. Those figures will only grow if iron ore prices hold their current levels.
Source: The Australian, Paul Garvey
. Picture: Margaret Bertling.
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