Miners' push for inquiry successful

FOUR Australian mining industry heavyweights dominated a "policy transition group" which two years ago recommended the Federal Treasurer launch an inquiry into the regulatory hurdles for minerals and energy exploration.

On Thursday, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury announced the Productivity Commission inquiry would go ahead.

Mr Ferguson also sat on the policy transition group, alongside former BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus; non-executive chairman of uranium explorer Toro Energy, Dr Erica Smyth; non-executive chairman of Clough Ltd, Keith Spence; and David Klingner, a former Rio Tinto executive and current director of uranium miner Energy Resources Australia.

Two others also sat on the group, the chairman of the Board of Taxation Chris Jordan and Treasury Revenue Group executive director David Parker.

The commission was given 12 months to investigate the regulatory hurdles for the exploration industry at both a state and federal level - with a public draft to be released with adequate time for community consultation.

Mr Ferguson said, in a statement, that while regulatory duplication would be assessed as part of the inquiry, it would not address local, state or Commonwealth taxation, fees and charges or royalties.

The commission will recommend changes to the Federal Government, as well as what could be done at the state level, which the Commonwealth has committed to refer to the states for action under Council of Australian Governments arrangements.