No agreement in talks on Australian mining tax

Talks between the Australian government and leading mining executives failed to break the deadlock over the proposed 40 per cent profits tax on the resources industry, both sides confirmed yesterday, with more negotiations now scheduled for the end of the week.

The meetings come after Australia's new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said she wanted better dialogue about the proposed levy, which will make Australia one of world's most expensive mining locations. Several companies listed in London, including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Xstrata, have argued that the original plans, which included measures to tax the industry retrospectively, are unfair. They also say the proposed charge will deter investment in Australia, and have threatened to shelve projects.

Ms Gillard has signalled a desire to compromise despite yesterday's stalemate. "We will continue to do that as we go through the rest of the week," said Wayne Swan, Australia's treasurer. "We are not into megaphone diplomacy here. We are sitting down in good faith discussing matters with a wide range of people."

The industry largely welcomed the promotion of Ms Gillard, who replaced Kevin Rudd, who had proposed the tax, known as the Henry tax, ahead of the general election later this year.

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