PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) has lashed out at comments made by Treasurer Ben Wyatt, warning that he should not diminish or disregard the concerns of thousands of gold workers in the region.
Wyatt this week said that more than 600 jobs were to be created in the gold sector over the next 18 months, as two major gold projects went into production.
“It has been so pleasing to hear the positive jobs news coming out of the Western Australian gold industry.
"Following the state Budget and the announcement of our plans for a A$20/oz gold royalty increase, it seems not a day goes by that I don't hear about a new plan to expand, more capital raising and a plan for more jobs,” the Treasurer said.
His statement comes just days after Western Australian gold miners rallied in Kalgoorlie to protest the state government’s plans to impose a new royalty on the gold sector.
The current 2.5% rate will apply for each month when the gold spot price is A$1 200/oz or less, and an increased rate of 3.75% will apply when the gold spot price is above A$1 200/oz.
Based on the current gold price, the increased rate equates to an additional royalty of about A$20/oz.
CME CEO Reg Howard-Smith said the Treasurer sought to dismiss the fears of thousands of workers by trumpeting the progress of long-term projects, which have been in the construction phase for months and were developed before the spectre of this royalty increase.
“Thousands of men and women are genuinely concerned they will lose their jobs in the wake of the government’s plan to increase the gold royalty rate,” he said.
“Each one of these workers deserves to be respected. They deserve to be treated with dignity, to have their fears acknowledged and their concerns heard by the state’s decision-makers.
“They do not deserve to be mocked or to have theirs fears dismissed.”
Howard-Smith said since the royalty announcement, the share prices of ASX-listed gold companies operating in Western Australia have dropped by an average of more than 8%.
“This decision is already hitting the industry hard. The government’s priority should be to keep its promise to put jobs first and stand up for Western Australian workers,” he said.
“For more than 100 years, the gold industry has played an important role in keeping Western Australia’s economy strong. The government needs to build confidence that it will support mining, Western Australia’s most important industry, rather than hurting it with opportunistic taxes.”