June 16 (Bloomberg) -- BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group, the world’s largest and third-largest mining companies, said Australia’s government gave no sign at a meeting today that it will compromise on its proposed mine profit tax.
"At present there is no formal acknowledgement from the government" that the mining industry’s tax concerns will be addressed, BHP, Rio and Xstrata Plc said in a joint statement after the talks in Canberra.
Global mining companies are reviewing, suspending or slowing Australian projects because of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s plan to introduce a 40 percent tax on mine profits starting from 2012. BHP, Rio and Xstrata want the government to exclude existing projects from the tax and reconsider the rate.
"What is abundantly clear to us is that had this tax been in place 10 years ago, we would not have invested as much as we have in the Pilbara and Rio Tinto would have been a much smaller producer of iron ore today," Rio’s Chairman Jan Du Plessis said in a letter to shareholders today. Rio is Australia’s biggest iron ore producer.
The tax rate won’t change and won’t be set at different levels for various commodities, Australia’s Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said today in a radio interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
A first report outlining the issues under discussion will be released next month and a final document late this year, according to the government. Legislation will be put to parliament in late 2011 if the Rudd government is re-elected at a national ballot due by April.