Miners cool on council’s rates push

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Pyramids of salt and iron ore, Dampier.
Camera IconPyramids of salt and iron ore, Dampier. Credit: WA News

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long has expressed disappointment with the response of some mining companies to the local government’s push for them to pay property rates on par with local businesses.

Of 11 local resource properties targeted for a rates increase under a proposed valuation change from unimproved value (UV) to gross rental value (GRV), Rio Tinto accepted the policy change for about half of its Dampier and Cape Lambert buildings but Quadrant Energy, Pastoral Management Pty Ltd (involved in the Sino Iron Mine) and Dampier Salt made submissions saying they did not agree with the policy.

Woodside did not accept the valuation change for the North West Shelf Project, citing the contributions the project already made to the City’s rates budget but consented for the Pluto LNG Plant which is not subject to a State Agreement.

The new policy is required for resource processing properties in the City area unless they are subject to a State Agreement, in which case companies can voluntarily opt in.

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City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said few resource companies had voluntarily come on board.

“Unfortunately, despite the involvement and support of the resources sector in the development of this policy, Rio Tinto is the only company that has voluntarily agreed to implement the changes that need consent,” he said.

“It is council’s strong view that they should be rated in the same way other local businesses are and, while we all value the social contributions these companies make, these do not mitigate their obligation to pay rates.”

Resource company-owned properties have historically been rated on a UV basis — the same as applies to rural properties — as they usually fall outside town boundaries, but in 2015 the State Government developed a new policy to allow local governments to rate them on the same basis as other business-owned properties in their area.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy deputy chief executive Nicole Roocke said implementation of the new rating policy should involve close consultation with resources sector ratepayers and in conjunction with other policies and guidelines about land ratings and valuations.

After consideration of submissions at last week’s council meeting, the City moved a motion to seek ministerial approval to change the rating policy for Woodside’s Pluto LNG Plant, Quadrant Energy’s Devil Creek, Venturex’ s Whim Creek Mine and a number of Rio Tinto-operated buildings.

Dampier Salt, the North West Shelf and Sino Iron, State Agreement-governed properties, will not be subject to the change, although City chief executive Chris Adams said the council would continue negotiations with their interest holders.

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