OPINION: Coal is the backbone of Queensland’s economic prosperity

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Ian with MCA CEO Tania Constable at the World Mining Congress

The Budget released by the Queensland Government in June confirmed two important things.

Firstly, coal is the backbone of Queensland’s economic prosperity and will remain so for many years to come. Secondly, as predicted by industry, the Queensland Government severely underestimated the revenue from its snap decision to impose the world’s highest coal royalty tax and its damage to future investment and jobs in the resources sector.

When the Government lifted the coal royalty rate to five times that of New South Wales last year, it said the decision would raise an additional $800 million over the 2022/23 financial year.

The Budget confirmed the final figures will be more than seven times that, generating an extra $5.7 billion as Queensland’s coal sector delivered total royalties in excess of $15 billion.

The Queensland Resources Council has argued that the previous system was working as it was intended to – when prices went up, so did the royalties that benefit all Queenslanders by funding the services and infrastructure we all rely on.

Under the previous regime, coal royalties would have still reached a record last financial year of close to $10 billion.

The consequences of the Queensland Government’s decision are now being felt across the sector.

In a major speech to the World Mining Congress in Brisbane, Australia’s biggest mining company BHP confirmed it will not be investing any “further growth dollars in Queensland” because of the uncertainty caused by the Government’s royalty tax increase.

The company also told international delegates at the Congress that the Government of Chile was better to deal with on the issues of royalties than the Queensland Government.

Anglo-American also raised its concerns about the royalties at the Congress.

Aside from the royalties issue, the World Mining Congress in Brisbane was a great opportunity to showcase the incredible history and potential of Queensland’s resources sector to delegates from across the globe.

Brisbane is the first Australian city to host the event in its 65-year history, which is terrific recognition of Queensland’s reputation in the mining sector.

Our educational arm, the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy, ran a STEM Pavilion in the Exhibition Hall, which proved popular among Congress visitors. Through hands-on activities and interactive displays, the QMEA team demonstrated how science, engineering, technology and maths skills will pave the way to a broad range of mining careers, from trade apprentices to engineers.

On June 20, the QRC also celebrated one of our signature events for the year, the 2023 Indigenous Awards. The resources sector is proudly the biggest private employer of Indigenous women and men, and these awards are a great opportunity to recognise individual and company achievements.

I congratulate all of this year’s winners and greatly respect their commitment to encouraging others to follow them into our great industry.

Finally, you have seen media reports of my decision to retire as Chief Executive of the QRC by the end of 2023.

It has been a great honour to serve in this role over the last seven years and be assured, I will continue to strongly represent our industry’s interests over the next six months and beyond.

Ian Macfarlane

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive

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