Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stone dead? Iron ore and coal exploration surge to new highs

We are searching for coal, iron ore and on-shore gas as never before despite claims the minerals resource rent tax would kill those industries “stone dead”.

Bureau of Statistics figures released yesterday show exploration for each at record highs.

Coal, iron ore and on-shore petroleum are the three commodities that will be hit by the new 22.5 per cent super-profits tax when it comes into force in July.

In parliamentary debate opposition leader Tony Abbott said the tax was “almost guaranteed to kill the mining boom stone dead.”

But the figures show September quarter spending on exploration for coal up 12 per cent to a new record high of $227 million, spending on iron ore exploration up 9 per cent to a new record high of $235 million, and spending on on-shore petroleum exploration up 33 per cent to a new record high of $249 million.

Over the year to September spending on coal exploration jumped 167 per cent, spending on iron ore exploration jumped 54 per cent, and spending on on-shore petroleum jumped 18 per cent.

The total number of metres drilled exploring for minerals climbed 28 per cent in the year to September... Total minerals exploration spending jumped 47 per cent. Spending in NSW and Queensland and South Australia more than doubled. Exploration spending in Victoria jumped 56 per cent, and spending in Western Australia 25 per cent.

The ABS figures follow Tuesday’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics forecast of record energy and minerals export earnings of $206 billion in 2012. If realised it will boost government revenue making its forecast surplus easier to attain.

The Bureau says capital expenditure by resource companies stands at a record high of $232 billion.

“Tony Abbott said the minerals resource rent tax would cripple the mining industry, but these figures show mining is booming,” said a spokesman for Treasurer Wayne Swan. “He voted against the benefits of the mining boom flowing through to all Australians so these very profitable mining companies can make even bigger profits.”

Published in today's Age

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