Mining companies dread carbon tax

AS THEY face the looming spectre of a carbon tax, two of Queensland's largest mining companies are telling different stories.

Swiss multi-national Xstrata and London-based powerhouse Rio Tinto both have been included in a list of 248 carbon polluters that will cop the tax from July 1.

Xstrata has 13 operations across the state and could face a bill of up to $250 million per year in the tax's first five years.

After that, the bill potentially could increase.

Xstrata's London office would not be drawn on consequences for its mines or workers, except to say it would be costly.

"The scheme represents a significant cost on our Australian business, particularly when you consider that many of our international competitors do not currently face any cost on carbon," a spokeswoman said.

In its annual report last week, Xstrata described how the threat of carbon taxes in Australia, Canada and South Africa would hit its "ability to maintain production or contain operating costs".

Xstrata's equally powerful competitor Rio Tinto, with its own handful of Queensland operations, was more relaxed about the approaching tax.

Rio Tinto global boss Tom Albanese told a Brisbane event on Friday that no resources business could foresee battles on the horizon but would need the flexibility to react.

Mr Albanese said it was the question marks that worried investors, and this was another hurdle to overcome.

"Whether it is royalties locally, the minerals resource rent tax, carbon or just worrying what is going to come next," he said.

"My view is that we have to get out of this pace; the industry has to stop worrying about what comes next.

"Our bankers, our financiers can build into their spreadsheet, saying this is what the tax rate is.

"Let's get on with business and let's get on with investment."

The list of polluters was not restricted to just mining companies, with a number of councils, gas producers and manufacturers also included.

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