LONDON, May 10, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- Xstrata PLC (XTA.LN) became the latest miner to speak out against Australia's proposed tax on mining "super profits," announcing Monday it has suspended its North Queensland regional copper exploration program until it receives greater clarity on what a new fiscal regime will mean.
The exploration program for prospective targets in the Mount Isa and Cloncurry districts, in conjunction with junior mining companies, involved planned expenditure of around A$30 million over the next three years, it said.
"We have decided to suspend exploration activities in North Queensland until there is greater certainty on the fiscal regime for future mining developments," said Steve de Kruijff, Chief Operating Officer, Xstrata Copper North Queensland.
"Exploration is the lifeblood of the mining industry but it is not possible to justify Xstrata Copper's ongoing funding of additional exploration activities when the fundamental economics of the industry in Australia are being challenged," he added.
Critics say the 40% tax proposed last week, could jeopardize investments worth billions of dollars in Australia's booming resources sector.
The North Queensland division of Xstrata has the capacity to produce 300,000 metric tons of refined copper annually.
Xstrata is the fourth-largest global copper producer with attributable mined production in 2009 of 907,000 metric tons of copper in cathodes and concentrates. The company is also one of the world's largest producers of smelter and refined copper, including from third party materials.