Treasurer Ben Wyatt has criticised gold miners for refusing to pay a new levy on gold miners to assist with budget repair.
Mr Wyatt said the gold sector could afford to contribute to help fix the budget, but it was instead spending millions of dollars on lobbying against the tax than contributing a “fair share”.
“All I’m asking the gold sector to do is pay another $20 an ounce out of a gold price around $1650 an ounce,” he said.
“This is a fair request, the gold sector can certainly afford contributing to budget repair.”
He claimed the gold sector was doing everything it could to avoid contributing to WA’s balling debt.
“What I find interesting at the moment is the gold sector is willing to spare literally millions of dollars on PR consultants, lobbyists, you name it, to avoid paying Western Australians a fair share for the resource that they own,” Mr Wyatt said.
It came as the heads of some of world’s largest gold miners have urged the State Government to reconsider a 50 per cent increase in royalties that they warn will leave WA’s economy worse off.
Speaking at a joint press conference on Wednesday, the executives warned any gains from the royalty hike would be overwhelmed by large job losses caused by marginally profitable mines being shut or not developed and built.
The State Government announced the royalty increase from 2.5 per cent to 3.75 per cent in last month’s budget, estimated to raise $400 million over four years and cost miners an extra $20 per ounce of production.
The government has rejected economic modelling released by the Chamber of Minerals and Industry this week that indicated that the increased royalties would result in 3000 job losses.
However, the executives said job cuts were a certainty.
Newcrest Mining’s chief executive Sandeep Biswas claimed the hike was an “ill-considered grab for cash” threatening the viability of its Telfer mine.
“This royalty increase would have made Telfer’s profit last year zero,” he said.
“Yes, your purported intake goes up on the day of the royalty increase. But then you get decisions like exploration not being done.”
“Telfer’s expansion may not be done, which means the open pit instead of lasting six years lasts two years. What do you think that will do to the royalty take-in?”
“If you lose 3000 jobs as an industry, where’s that in terms of payroll tax and income tax? The whole reverberations as a result of jobs losses…just aren’t well understood.”
However, Mr McGowan said the industry’s claims of job losses are “completely overblown”, while Mr Wyatt is continuing to push for the increase.
The measure now relies on support from the Liberal Party after crossbenchers and the Nationals announced they would oppose it in the Upper House.
Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said he was urging the Liberal Party to block Labor’s plans in parliament.
“No industry can cope with an unexpected 50 per cent increase in a major cost,” he said.