Tax key to WASM funding windfall
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.