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22 August, 2023 | 03:42 AM

'Use it or lose it': Qld treasurer warns BHP on leases

'Use it or lose it': Qld treasurer warns BHP on leases
Queensland's treasurer has warned BHP that its mining leases might be in jeopardy if the company does not continue investing in the state. Cameron Dick used the day of BHP's full-year results to continue his stoush with the mining lobby over Queensland's progressive coal royalties, first telling The Australian the government would not hesitate to revoke mining tenures being "misused" and then telling parliament that firms had to "use or lose" their leases. The three-tier royalties regime introduced last year brought in billions of extra revenue and helped the Palaszczuk government deliver a record $12.3 billion surplus in 2022/23. The treasurer has clashed clashed repeatedly with miners who warned the royalties would deter further investment in Queensland. BHP chief Mike Henry said in June that the mining giant "will not be investing any further growth dollars in Queensland under the current conditions". The company on Tuesday posted an underlying profit of $US13.4 billion, which the treasurer told state parliament "was a larger profit than any of Australia's big banks and is BHP's fourth largest profit ever". "The strength of BHP is balance sheet acting speaker and the impending windfall it will make from selling the Daunia and Blackwater mines shows just what BHP can achieve when it focuses on its core business," he said. Mr Dick then warned that although the government wanted resource companies to be successful, "we want those companies to properly develop the leases that they have been granted by the people of Queensland". If obligations were not followed, the resources minister could impose financial penalties or even cancel a lease, the treasurer said. "Or putting it another way, in the words of senior LNP Queensland senator Matt Canavan, companies like BHP are obliged, quote, 'to use it or lose it'." BHP's CEO defended the company's position on investment due to the royalties as not "particularly controversial". "In essence what we're saying is that if returns go down, and risk goes up, of course that makes investments elsewhere in relative terms more attractive," Mr Henry said while discussing Tuesday's results. "Any business or frankly, any of us in our personal finances, would look at it in exactly the same way." Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane said the government should take the royalties' impact on mining investment seriously. BHP had made it clear Queensland's "excessive new royalty taxes" had increased the risk of future investment and the council knew other companies were also reviewing their investment plans for Queensland, he said in a statement. "In 2021/22, our sector contributed $94.6 billion to the state economy and supported the jobs of more than 450,000 people, which gives some idea of what's at stake," Mr Macfarlane said. Sign up for our emails