News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s wrap: mining tax returns stuck at zero; BHP blasts PNG over ban on Garnaut; and investors stand by for positive mining signals.

Lou Caruana

Mining tax returns stuck at zero

RESOURCE giants will escape Labor's mining tax for the second quarter in a row in another risk to the federal budget, just as Julia Gillard vows to fund major new commitments before the election, according to The Australian.

A recent surge in iron ore prices has not been enough to lift profits beyond the levels needed to trigger the mining tax, despite the government's forecast of $2 billion in revenue from the controversial impost this year alone.

None of the big three miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata will make payments when they are due next week, while Fortescue Metals Group confirmed it would not do so either.

BHP blasts PNG over ban on Garnaut

BHP Billiton has slammed Papua New Guinea’s government over an immigration ban that accelerated the resignation of eminent Australian Ross Garnaut from the chairmanship of Ok Tedi mine.

It warned that his treatment sent “a very bad message’’ to companies intent on doing business in PNG, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The miner also accused PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of seeking to use improper leverage over the granting of exploration licences in return for BHP transferring control of a $1.4 billion development fund established with proceeds from Ok Tedi.

Investors stand by for positive mining signals

Growing concern that listed miners are becoming expensive is tempering further sector gains despite mounting evidence that China is rebounding, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Analysts are optimistic on the outlook for commodity prices after uncertainty over Chinese growth last year but say investors are taking a breather before further bidding up share prices.