Aussie tax may have silver lining in higher coal, iron ore prices

The 30% tax on iron ore and coal producers passed this week by the Australian government may raise the prices of those commodities but will also shrink margins of steelmakers, analysts say.

"As far as tax on iron ore is concerned, there may be some kind of price rise globally, as miners will pass on the cost to importers. However, rise in coal price may have negative impact on margins of the steel manufacturer in the country, who mostly rely on coal (coking coal) import from Australia," Indian media outlet quotes Basant Poddar, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (Fimi) Southern Chapter Chairman, saying Wednesday.

The Australian Senate earlier this week approved mining legislation that imposes a 30% tax on coal and iron ore miners, allowing the government to take a larger part of profits from a mining boom pushed by Chinese and Indian demand for raw materials.

The new tax, which will become law on July 1, is expected to harvest about US$12 billion in taxes within three years from mining giants such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

Indian power companies are currently grappling with an increase in the price of thermal coal from Indonesia due to that country's recent decision to benchmark to international prices, and now steel companies are also bracing for a hit, notes Daily News & Analysis (DNA). It quotes another analyst forecasting a rise in the coking coal price:

"We expect the coking coal prices to be impacted by around 2-3% once the tax is brought into effect which could translate into over 1% impact on steel companies’ realisations,” said Bikash Bhalotia, senior analyst with brokerage Pinc Research.

Gujarat NRE Coke and Bhushan Steel, which own coking coal mines in Australia, are likely to be most impacted, states DNA.