Tax key to WASM fund­ing wind­fall

Pilbara News - - Election 2017 - Josh Chiat

WA Na­tion­als leader Bren­don Grylls has moved to wedge the State’s min­ing in­dus­try by link­ing his $5-a-tonne iron ore tax to an ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion of Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der’s WA School of Mines.

The Na­tion­als, if elected, have promised $150 mil­lion over five years to trans­form Curtin Univer­sity’s Gold­fields cam­pus into a “cen­tre of ex­cel­lence in min­ing”, in­clud­ing a $50 mil­lion out­lay to de­liver on a decades-old plan to ex­pand Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der’s 115-year-old univer­sity into the Pil­bara.

But Mr Grylls said it would not go ahead un­less the Na­tion­als’ pol­icy to in­crease the spe­cial lease rental on BHP Bil­li­ton’s and Rio Tinto’s Pil­bara iron ore mines from 25¢/t to $5/t was re­alised.

“The pro­posal will not pro­ceed with­out an in­crease to the legacy iron ore min­ers spe­cial lease rental,” he said.

“The in­crease in the spe­cial lease rental al­lows projects such as the in­ter­na­tional cen­tre for min­ing ex­cel­lence to be funded while not hav­ing to cut im­por­tant re­gional ser­vices or the num­bers and salaries of po­lice, nurses and teach­ers.”

In the Pil­bara, the com­mit­ment in­cludes $10 mil­lion will be spent on a re­search hub, with a fur­ther $40 mil­lion to be spent on link­ing the North-West’s min­ing, oil and gas and agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries to the higher ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor. In Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der, $50 mil­lion will go to­wards re­search grants and a schol­ar­ship fund to lure stu­dents into min­ing de­grees; $5 mil­lion to es­tab­lish a grad­u­ate school to pro­vide pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tion to post­grad­u­ates and min­ing ex­ec­u­tives; and $45 mil­lion to­wards the con­struc­tion of a test mine, pro­cess­ing plant and iron ore crusher for un­der­grad­u­ate and ex­ec­u­tive train­ing.

Na­tion­als can­di­date for Kal­go­or­lie Tony Crook said he ex­pected the min­ing in­dus­try to sup­port the project, de­spite the source of its pro­posed fund­ing.

“Re­mem­ber this has come from the WASM alumni; it’s come from (North­ern Star boss) Bill Bea­ment, it’s come from se­nior ex­ec­u­tives,” he said.

WASM direc­tor Sam Spear­ing said he hoped the $150 mil­lion fund­ing in­jec­tion would drive a re­vival in stu­dent num­bers.

WASM had about 200 stu­dents based in Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der last year, of whom about half were from over­seas.

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