WA rules out taxing battery metals – but won’t hand out subsidies either
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The West Australian government does not plan to tax battery metals players — but it won’t provide subsidies to take advantage of the booming market either.
A report released earlier this year suggests Australia has no more than two years to position itself as a dominant supplier of lithium before it misses the boat on a $2 trillion opportunity.
“We don’t tax these industries,” WA Mines Minister Bill Johnston told journalists on the sidelines of Paydirt’s Battery Minerals Conference in Perth yesterday.
“We do charge a royalty on production. The royalty rate review determined that the royalties on other minerals are adequate. So there’s no reason to change any of those. Gold was the only one they said was underdone.”
While previous efforts to get WA to become a significant player in downstream processing have failed, Mr Johnston believes the State is well-placed to capitalise on growing downstream opportunities without financial assistance from the government.
“There’s been a vision for Western Australians to have downstream processing for a long time but the reason that vision has failed is because it didn’t meet economic tests of investors,” Mr Johnston said.
“But here in the lithium and battery space, we do actually have everything we need to ensure that we can take the best advantage of these opportunities.
“For the first time in a long time this is the best place to do the investment without government subsidies or any of those things.”
Chinese-backed Tianqi Lithium is spending more than $700 million to build a two-stage lithium processing plant in Kwinana and South Korean heavyweight POSCO recently struck a multi-million dollar sales and investment deal with ASX-listed Pilbara Minerals.
Chile chemical major SQM is also eyeing potential investment in WA.
The Mark McGowan-led government is working with battery metals players in a bid to grow the State’s contribution to the global supply chain.
“The McGowan government is very keen to support and develop emerging battery material industries,” Mr Johnston said.
“We want to make sure the settings are right to attract further downstream possibilities here in Western Australia.
“Not just to provide subsidies, but rather to provide the settings to make sure that these businesses can operate profitably in Western Australia and that we can make the most out of the resources that we have in our State.”
The Minerals Research Institute of WA is working with industry to coordinate a new energy industry Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) bid.
“We strongly believe that this CRC should be based here in Western Australia. This is the centre for battery minerals in Australia.”