Miners open tax talks in Australia

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The Independent Online

The mining industry – including a number of London-listed groups – have opened discussions with Australia's new government over Canberra's planned 30 per cent profits tax on the resources industry.

Representatives from BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata yesterday met the Resources minister, Martin Ferguson, to discuss the details of the levy that will come into force in 2012. After a multimillion-dollar campaign, the industry managed to water down initial proposals for a 40 per cent tax, with the major players now signed up to the policy.

"I think the industry is now focused on the fact that the government is clear in its intent to put this tax in place," Mr Ferguson said. The Australian government is hoping to raise A$10.5bn (£6.5bn).

The talks are the first since the election of Australia's new coalition government in August. The Labor party, the largest coalition member, had proposed a 40 per cent charge, before watering the plans down in the face of strong opposition.

The final plans for the tax are likely to be drawn up next year. Miners have until the end of this month to make submissions.