Submissions


Australia’s Innovation System

The Australian minerals industry recognises that innovation is crucial to improving productivity and cost competitiveness. Australia is a global centre of mining production, research and innovation, and its mining companies have long been among the largest business investors in Research and Development (R&D). Australia’s mining sector has increased R&D activity substantially over the last decade and currently spends around $4 billion per annum on R&D. This accounts for 22 per cent of all business R&D investment, with the mining sector’s contribution increasing by $265 million in 2012-13. As well as being central to the industry’s economic performance, innovation has been vital in meeting environmental and social stewardship responsibilities.
The mining industry is also a critical driver of the development of related industry sectors in Australia. Modern mining projects involve an enormous range of activities from exploration, resource assessment, site development, engineering design, construction, procurement and installation of plant, equipment and buildings. These projects often

Workplace Gender Reporting Public Consultation

We believe there is a strong business case for diverse workplaces in our industry. Tapping new skills pools is crucial in terms of ensuring industry is able to draw on the best talent available, overcoming skills shortages in particular occupations and industry sectors, as well as overcoming future constraints on the labour pool as a result of our ageing population. Many resources companies have already embarked on their own gender diversity journey, each in different ways. Workplace Gender Equality Agency data, for example, shows that mining leads the all industries average on paid parental leave entitlements. The MCA has also implemented a series of practical initiatives to promote greater diversity in our members’ workplaces as well as related businesses and supply chain. For example, the MCA’s Workforce Gender Diversity White Paper (2013) shares best practice recommendations, as well as the dissemination of good gender diversity practice to smaller operators, contractors and suppliers.

2014 REVIEW OF THE WATER ACT 2007

Water availability and security of supply is a critical business risk for the minerals industry which generates a very high economic value-add from water use. Mining and minerals processing cannot occur without secure access to reliable water supplies. While mining does not have a large presence within the Murray-Darling Basin (utilising around 0.55 per cent2 of available water), the industry can be a significant water user at the local or regional level. Accordingly, the MCA considers the reforms under the Water Act to be important in balancing the needs of the society, economic development and the environment. The minerals industry utilises both surface water and groundwater resources within the Murray- Darling Basin (MDB) and the management of groundwater is of particular interest. The minerals industry operates in areas with little reliable surface water supplies. Many operations are dependent on access to groundwater in terms of supply, but also dewatering activities for safe operation. The minerals industry supports the principles within the 2004 Intergovernmental Agreement on a National Water Initiative (NWI) and recognises the importance of the Water Act 2007, as the primary legislation for implementing these reforms within the MDB. The minerals industry faces a range of sector specific challenges in the implementation of water reforms as recognised by Clause 34 of the NWI. Most of these challenges relate to a lack of recognition of industry circumstances in subordinate mechanisms/arrangements and the rigidity of existing entitlement regimes. The MCA does however consider the Water Act could be improved to provide additional flexibility to allow for the development of innovative approaches to managing industry water use which are not in conflict with the objectives of the Act. In recent years, the MCA has worked closely with the National Water Commission to better understand the water reform challenges facing the minerals industry and to develop a range of policy solutions. A key outcome of this process is the publication of the Integrating the Mining Sector into Water Planning and Entitlements Regimes report, released in March 2012.3 Many of these matters have been further articulated in the MCA response to the triennial assessment of the NWI.4

Inquiry into the Fuel Indexation (Road Funding) Bill 2014 and related bills

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the package of bills which propose amendments to the Excise Tariff Act 1921 and the Customs Tariff Act 1995 to index the rate of excise and excise-equivalent customs duty applied to fuels (the bills). The MCA is the peak industry organisation representing Australia’s exploration, mining and minerals processing industry, nationally and internationally. MCA member companies represent more than 85 per cent of Australia’s annual minerals industry production and a higher share of minerals exports. Fuel is a vital business input for a range of businesses. Mining is particularly fuel intensive because diesel fuel is a critical input for off-road vehicles and heavy mining equipment used by the industry and in power generation where mine sites are situated in remote areas not connected to the electricity grid. As a result, the mining industry is a large ‘recipient’ of Fuel Tax Credits (FTCs), commonly referred to as the ‘Diesel Fuel Rebate’, which refunds excise paid by mining companies for fuel used as a business input in off-road vehicles and for power generation. The MCA does not proffer a view in this submission on the merits or otherwise of the current rate of excise or on the question of the applicability of indexation generally. The minerals industry emphasises to the committee the policy principle underpinning Australia’s FTC arrangements which ensure excise is not imposed on business inputs. The Fuel Tax Act 2006 automatically operates to ensure FTCs are available at the excise rate to fully offset excise for fuel used off-road by the mining, agriculture and other industries (less the current carbon charge applying to mining). The legislation before the committee, as currently drafted, appropriately does not propose any change to these arrangements on the basis of sound tax policy.

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