Miner talks a partial win: WA Nationals


The West Australian Nationals are claiming a partial policy win after a state government approach to BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto about changing their iron ore fees.

Both major parties oppose the Nationals' proposal to hike the 25 cent per tonne lease rental paid by the miners since the 1960s to $5 per tonne but the WA government has spoken with the companies about making the existing charge payable as an up-front sum.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto swiftly ruled out agreeing to such a change, which Premier Colin Barnett said could only happen through mutual acceptance.

"We're happy to discuss the finer points of the policy," WA Nationals deputy leader Mia Davies said on Wednesday.

"We think ... the community supports us in finding a new revenue stream. It's an existing charge within a legacy state agreement that has been confirmed as a bit of an anomaly."

Newly reinstalled WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls says lifting the charge to $5 per tonne will raise $7.2 billion over four years and improve the state's ailing finances.