New tax plan could hit Australia's top miners hard

The Australian Financial Review reports under a controversial mining tax plan, the country's top miners will face new limitations on the refunds they are allowed to claim from central government for state resource royalties:

Any overhaul of the mining tax could spark a fresh war with the miners, who argue any change would overturn the 2010 agreement that ended a multimillion- dollar campaign against its predecessor – the resource super profits tax.

Large miners such as BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Rio Tinto would receive only a set amount in refunds and are anticipated to contribute around 90% of the $2.3 billion the tax changes are likely to generate according to the controversial measure's backers, the Green party.

Australia's Treasurer – the top government finance position – Wayne Swan is slated to meet with state counterparts early next month to initiate talks on increases in state royalties. If the talks prove unsuccessful Swan may take action against states, which may include withholding grants or introducing federal legislation regarding royalty credits.

The aggregate  mining and minerals company tax and royalties revenue for government coffers over the past decade is pegged at $124 billion, according to official industry figures.