Mining group releases new weapon in Australian carbon tax fight

08:11, June 15, 2011      

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The Gillard Government's controversial carbon tax will put thousands of Australians out of work and throw away billions of dollars in mining projects to offshore competitors, according to a report Tuesday compiled by a major resources industry group.

The Australian Coal Association (ACA) has been looking for a smoking gun to join in the carbon tax battle and has found it, releasing a major survey of Australia's black coal mines modeling the impact of the Federal Government's carbon tax.

Executive Director of the ACA, Ralph Hillman said the research clearly shows that coal mines could close and soon if the government persists with its current plans for a carbon tax.

Hillman said, "The ACA supports putting a price on carbon but not one that causes Australian mines to close and shift production to other countries with no reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions."

The ACA commissioned ACIL Tasman to survey black coal mines throughout Australia on the impact of a carbon tax during April and May using an indicative emissions price trajectory formulated by the Centre for International Economics (CIE).

Ralph Hillman said Australian mining expansion will be sorely stifled, suggesting between 24 billion U.S. dollars and 47 billion U.S. dollars in export earnings would be lost over the next decade.

"The cost of the carbon tax to Australian coal mines is expected to be around 18 billion (Australian) dollars (19.15 billion U.S. dollars) within the first nine years (2021) of the tax ... The impact of the carbon tax will accelerate over time as it increases to over 50 (Australian) dollars (53.2 U.S. dollars) a tonne with 18 mines at risk of closure within nine years," he said.

Despite the growing attacks from industry groups and the political right, Australian Greens leader Bob Brown remains confident the alliance with Julia Gillard's Labor Government will see the carbon tax pass into legislation.

The outspoken Senator Brown, who effectively holds the balance of power in Australia's upper house, speaking from New Zealand said, "We will, I believe, get a carbon price but it won't be a Green carbon price ... This will not be a Green Party outcome, it will be a compromise outcome."

The ACA disagrees. Ralph Hillman said the Tax will hobble Australia's competitiveness.

"This is a cost that none of our competitors will face and reflects the government's failure to seriously address the competitiveness of Australian trade exposed industries, including coal," he said.

"The impact of the carbon tax on the black coal mining industry will be felt mainly in regional NSW and Queensland with nearly 3, 000 jobs at risk in the coal sector in NSW within the first three years. In Queensland over 1,000 jobs are at risk within three years."

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson quickly rejected the research saying only a few coal mines would be in danger of closing under the carbon tax.

However, Ferguson expressed confidence that demand from China would inspire the continued strong growth of coal exports.

"We accept that there are some gaseous mines that are going to be challenged under a carbon tax, that's why we are engaged in discussions with the industry," Ferguson told ABC radio.

The minister also criticized mining magnate and Fortescue Metals founder Andrew Forrest over his planned High Court challenge against Labor's mining tax.

With the vociferous opposition leader Tony Abbott, "Twiggy" Forrest and the ACA are finding solid traction in their attempts to derail the proposed tax, a tax which if it fails to be pushed through, would threaten Julia Gillard's troubled leadership.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
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