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Barnett attacks mine tax again
No gain: Rio Tinto operations in the Pilbara. Picture: Rio Tinto

Colin Barnett renewed his attack on Federal Labor's minerals resource rent tax yesterday amid revelations none of the major miners has paid a cent since its introduction on July 1.

The Premier, who has consistently criticised the tax as discriminatory against WA, described the MRRT as "the most foolishly structured tax I have ever seen".

"It is a ludicrous proposal. It was cobbled together by a few of the major mining companies with a few meetings with (Prime Minister) Julia Gillard," he said.

"It was an unprofessional approach so I am not surprised it is not collecting revenue and it is damaging confidence."

No revenue was collected by the MRRT in its first three months of operation and the Australian newspaper reported yesterday that miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Xstrata and Fortescue Metals Group would not pay any MRRT for the three months to December 31.

A spokesman for acting Federal Treasurer Penny Wong yesterday cautioned about "putting … faith in numbers that are based on a day's, week's or month's spot prices for our resources".

"It's no secret that our Budget revenues have already taken a big hit from the impact of continued global instability, commodity price volatility and a high dollar," the spokesman said.

Shadow assistant treasurer Mathias Cormann called on the Federal Government to come clean on how much money the MRRT had collected while reiterating the coalition's promise to abolish the tax if it won office.

"Why should the miners have to continue to pay millions and millions of dollars in additional compliance costs for a tax which doesn't raise any revenue," he said.

Senator Wong's spokesman said it was hypocritical for the Liberal Party to call for the information when it had kept secret "nearly 50" of its own policies.

The iron ore spot price hit $US155 a tonne yesterday, almost double its low of September when it languished at US$87 a tonne.

The spot price is important to WA's finances because it affects the royalty revenue that flows into Treasury coffers. Treasury predicts each dollar movement in the iron ore price is worth $32 million to State revenue.