The Western Australian Government is to offer royalty relief to junior iron ore miners struggling with falling commodity prices.
The price of the steel-making commodity fell 50 per cent this year, forcing junior miners to shed hundreds of jobs in a bid to slash spending.
The Government has now revealed it will make temporary assistance available to juniors on a case by case basis as they restructure operations to deal with the tough market conditions.
The assistance would give haematite miners the opportunity to apply for a 50 per cent rebate on royalties for up to 12 months, if the price of the commodity remains below $AU90 over that period.
In a statement, Premier Colin Barnett said the move “is a responsible and carefully considered move and comes on the back of a 48 per cent fall in iron ore prices since January 1,” he said.
“The iron ore industry plays a hugely important role in the Western Australian economy, accounting for 56 per cent of the state’s exports and employing more than 61,000 people in 2013-14.”
The rebate will come into effect from the December quarter, with the first rebates available in February.
After the 12-month period, miners will have to repay the rebates over the following two years.
The royalty relief would have an impact on the state budget’s bottom line and be a double hit for a government already under pressure from falling royalty revenue due to concessions already given miners and falling production.
ItBC Iron, Atlas Iron and Mt Gibson Iron have all slashed jobs and spending in the past couple of weeks to cope with the price slide.
Fortescue Metals Group has also made cuts, announcing it would slash $US650 million from its annual capital spend, while also axing three senior executive positions.