Rio Tinto’s Kestrel South longwall shearer grinds a 450m-long stretch of coal, which is captured by a conveyor belt beneath.
Rio Tinto’s Kestrel South longwall shearer grinds a 450m-long stretch of coal, which is captured by a conveyor belt beneath.

Qld misses out on $554m of royalties from mining companies

A LEGAL loophole means many mining giants do not have to pay the state millions of dollars in royalties on coal.

Rio Tinto's Kestrel Mine, north-east of Emerald, pays Anglo-Pacific instead of the State Government for some blocks of land it mines under the century-old legislation.

Anglo-Pacific predicted its gross royalty income from Kestrel for 2014 would be about $3.4 million.

But a BHP Billiton spokesperson said the land it mines, including Daunia and Caval Ridge near Moranbah, did not fall into this category.

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Some Bowen Basin mines appear to have used this loophole for decades.

In the 10 years up to December 29, 2009, the state missed out on $554 million in royalties from Queensland mines because that was paid to private owners.

Queensland University of Technology economist Dr Mark McGovern is calling on the government to make changes to the law as the Treasurer looks for more money for the coming state budget.

Dr McGovern said the state had ownership of resources on behalf of Queenslanders.

He said current laws could explain whythe government's deficits had been so bad despite miners doing well.

"The state should be reviewing this as a priority," Dr McGovern said.

"If it's not state-owned, what's the gain?

"Why are there exceptions to the general rule?"

Queensland Treasury could not give the figures for each mine that was operating on land and paying private royalties, rather than State royalties.

It was explained as "commercial in confidence".

APN had been told it would be given updated figures on how much in private royalties had been paid during the past five years, only to be told a week later it was not possible.

- APN NEWSDESK



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