North Australia Digest – 25/10/12

The Australian
The government’s new mining tax raised zero revenue in its first three months. Price cuts, the high dollar and falling profits, mostly due to lower commodity prices, have drastically reduced mining companies’ tax contributions.
Rio Tinto are set to review alumina operations in a remote Northern Territory mining community, which could see 1400 jobs at risk.
Australian Financial Review
BHP Billiton has decided to sell its West Australian uranium deposit to Canadian company Cameco. The move has added to current debate on foreign ownership rules, but politicians and executives in Australia’s uranium industry say the deal is being used to push for changes to Canada’s own investment policy.
A report by consultancy Booz & Co warns that low productivity and high cost could potentially see a third of Australia’s coalmines unprofitable if the price of the resource falls much further.
Reserve Bank of Australia board member John Edwards believes the mining sector is still the most productive sector of the Australian economy, despite signs that productivity is dropping. Edwards said that mining ‘continues to make a positive contribution to overall productivity growth in Australia.’
The Courier Mail
The Courier Mail also reports on the failure of the mining tax to raise any revenue due to falling commodity prices. The government’s MYEFO, released earlier in the week, has slashed predictions for the mining tax from $3.7 billion revenue down to only $2 billion.
The West Australian
A rise in the consumer price index of 1.4 per cent in the last three months was led by a 13.1 per cent increase in electricity prices, likely to be fuelled by the carbon tax.
As in yesterday’s Courier Mail, the West Australian reports on Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s claims that Australia’s resources sector has become ‘fat and lazy’, that lower commodity prices should not prevent expansion and development.
The Daily Telegraph
A draft report of Labor MPs has called on Julia Gillard to appoint a special cabinet minister to ensure local workers are used in the mining industry ahead of foreign labour. The report lead to the resignation of the committee’s deputy chair Andrew Leigh.