Gold Royalty Hike a Possibility After Talks Between Government, Industry

The WA Government could be reviving its gold royalty hike after Ben Wyatt revealed he is considering options to make the failed policy work without significantly impacting marginal mines.

The Treasurer said there was a possibility the policy could be brought back after discussions with miners, though nothing had been decided yet.

Premier Mark McGowan introduced the hike the State Budget to raise gold royalty rates from 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent to cut debt by $392 million over years.

Liberal, National and crossbenchers were concerned about a considerable impact to the mines which led to blocking the policy.

Miners were concerned about the rise which would lead to job losses and mine closures, launching an expensive campaign against the hike.

Mr Wyatt said he was willing to adjust the policy to reduce the effect to less financially profitable mines.

“It’s been made clear to me that there are a number of gold mines at the more marginal end that aren’t making that sort of money,” Mr Wyatt told 6PR radio.

He said 90 per cent of miners could afford a royalty increase, but 10 projects were less profitable.

“We may be able to come up with a mechanism to protect them like we do with the junior iron ore players.”

“At the very least, if we can take out that hostility or the concern around the more marginal gold operations, then I think hopefully we can capture some more confidence out of the upper house as well.”

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said the previous proposal had problems but the Liberal Party would look at the details of the new plan and would “probably” support it if the mining industry backed it.

“We do not like discrimination against one mine against the others, we do not believe it should get very complicated,” Dr Nahan said.

“There are some very profitable gold mines, there are some very marginal ones.”

“That’s the problem.”

However, he expressed concerns the government could introduce the hike when parliament rose for the year and the policy could be in place for months before the upper house could vote it down in March.

He said if that happened, the party’s resolve to block it would be “even stronger”, but Mr Wyatt said the government is reluctant to take that measure.

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