Australia PM tells miners they don't own minerals

Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, warned the mining industry that nationals not only want, but also deserve a share of the nation's resources boom and reminded its leaders they don't "own" the minerals of the country.

Speaking at a Minerals Council of Australia dinner in Canberra, The Telegraph reports Gillard told mining executives – including representatives from Rio Tinto and BHP – she would not retreat from standing up for "battlers".

"Governments sell you the right to mine the resource … a resource we hold in trust for a sovereign people. They own it and deserve their share."

Gillard said her government had been "crystal clear" since delivering the budget that it wanted growth in the economy and for the benefits of growth to spread to all.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Gillard's remarks risk reopening old wounds in the industry that fought hard against the Labour federal government's mining and carbon taxes, and has concerns about its workplace relations regime.

Last week, Australian Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen,announced the country will allow the $9.3 billion Roy Hill iron ore mining project to hire about 1,700 foreign workers, under the first Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA). This decision to grant first ever right to hire foreign workers has sparked heated critics by local unions and the mining community.