Australia top for mining

AUSTRALIA is the best place in the world for mining investment, according to a report by independent US analyst Behre Dolbear.
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A score of 56.3 out of a possible 70 points put Australia at the head of the pack, with Canada, Chile, Brazil and Mexico in the top five.

Russia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kazakhstan and Papua New Guinea were the lowest ranked countries in the report.

Australia scored the highest for its economic system and ability to manage social issues while PNG ranked the lowest for social concerns.

One area of marked concern going forward is the Australian dollar.

"While not enough to change its rating, Australia's inflation is beginning to be a concern," the report said.

Despite the warning, Canada, Australia and Brazil all held scores of 9 points out of a possible 10.

The tax regime of nations were ranked as stable and predictable tax policies were considered essential in evaluating a mining project's perceived risks and viability.

More nations are discussing the possibility of raising taxes for mining related activities, which could be due to Australia's Minerals Resource Rent Tax.

"The inspiration for these efforts may have been bolstered by Australia's actions over the past year to increase taxes, both directly and indirectly on mining operations," the report said.

"Such discussions can result in uncertainty, delays and limitations on investment."

Mexico and Canada were the highest rated for their tax regimes while South Africa, Zambia and Mongolia were at the bottom.

The report also considered the timeframe involved in obtaining permits in its rankings as it considers such delays to be a global issue but Australia took home top honours with the fewest permitting delays.

"Permitting delays are the most significant risk to mining projects in the United States," the report said.

"A few mining friendly states (Nevada, Utah, Kentucky, West Virginia and Arizona) are an exception to this rule but are negatively impacted by federal rules that they are bound to enforce resulting in a seven to 10-year waiting period before mine development can begin."

When considering corruption, Behre Dolbear said the problem was typically endemic in the poorer nations and those with socialist or controlled economies or totalitarian regimes.

Canada and Australia held perfect scores of 10 points for the least corrupt nation category, while Kazakhstan and Russia were at the bottom of the heap with scores of 1 point each.

With expectations that 2013 will be an unpredictable year for global markets, Behre Dolbear anticipates that the top ranked nations will benefit from their stability.

"The competition for mineral resources will make those countries perceived to have the lowest political risk, all other things being equal, able to attract a significant portion of the global mineral investment as well as receive a premium for their resources over countries where perceived instability exists," the report concluded.

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