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Martin Ferguson in Perth for Damage Control

Martin Ferguson is in Perth with members of the Policy Committee looking into the Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT). The federal resources minister is meeting with lobby groups and individual companies to be more conciliatory in his approach for negotiations with Australian miners over the proposed mining tax.

This seems to be damage control after his last trip to Perth was jarred by a confrontational lunch with mining executives who were angry about the deal he struck with big three - BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Rio Tinto to tax only coal and iron ore.

The primary issue which is bothering the small to mid tier companies is the $50 million threshold for the tax. While Mr Ferguson has not promised a change he has said that it would be considered in due course with the Treasurer.

Mr Ferguson also said that the consultations with miners would be extended into 2011. The softening of stance comes as he and former BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus co-chaired the first consultation meeting of the policy transition group overseeing the final design of the controversial tax.

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