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IN News Wrap: Japanese steel giant warns WA against increased iron ore tax plan; Indonesia expects mining rule overhaul within weeks; and BHP explores power options.
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Kristie Batten

Japanese steel giant warns WA against increased iron ore tax plan

The West Australian reports that Japan’s biggest steelmaker, and a foundation customer and joint venture partner for the original Pilbara iron ore developments in the 1960s and 70s, has written to Colin Barnett to oppose WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls’ $A5-a-tonne tax plan.

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metals managing executive officer Kazuo Tanimizu told Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett his company was watching developments “with utmost concern”.

Tanimizu, who met Barnett in August at Rio Tinto’s 50th anniversary dinner, wrote last month that if Grylls’ proposal was implemented, it would not only present uncertainty for future investments in WA mining by his or other companies but also jeopardise WA iron ore’s global competitiveness.

“It could even ultimately affect security of supply of iron ore from WA, which is a concern to us, as our company is also one of the largest buyers of iron ore from WA,” Tanimizu wrote in the letter, obtained by the newspaper.

Indonesia expects mining rule overhaul within weeks

According to Reuters, Indonesia is finalising an overhaul of its mining rules that could give companies up to five more years to build smelters, and reopen exports of nickel ore banned since 2014, the country's mining minister said on Tuesday.

The proposed changes provide a way around a 2017 deadline for full domestic processing of mineral ores, potentially pushing completion of that aim to 2022, but also possibly undermining investor confidence.

"We will provide an opportunity to companies building smelters, in the form of a relaxation ... in accordance with their smelter development progress," Mining Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said.

BHP explores power options

Miner BHP Billiton says there is a problem for major companies and heavy industry in South Australia obtaining a long-term, secure electricity supply at a reasonable price, warning that the state’s power market was not as competitive as in other jurisdictions, reports The Australian.

As South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill yesterday said former police commissioner Gary Burns would head a state inquiry he announced last week into the preparedness of agencies and their responses to a statewide blackout caused by severe storms, industry continued counting the huge economic cost.

BHP is among major companies forced to suspend operations because of the power failure at its flagship Olympic Dam mine in the state’s far north.