The AFR had an interesting story about BP Australia’s record
profit yesterday, in which it revealed that $1 billion in after-tax
dividends had been shipped back to the London head office in 2005.

Given the extraordinary profits being recorded during this heady
resources boom, it would be fascinating to track how the cash actually
flows and whether much of the windfall gains are being being reinvested in
Australia. For instance, does Swiss-based Xstrata actually get its
Japanese coal customers to send the money to an Australian bank
account, or does it just go straight to Europe and then royalty and
company tax payments get sent back to Australia later?

It’s all food for thought given the xenophobia displayed over the aborted Snowy
Hydro float. Here are another four $1 billion-plus resources projects
for our who owns Australia
list and they’re all 100% Rio Tinto iron-ore operations in the Pilbara,
which makes them just 15% Australian owned given that foreign
shareholders dominate the register of the London-based dual-listed

Brockman/Nammuldi: Located about 60 km north-west of Tom
Price in the Pilbara and 100% Rio Tinto owned, so Australian ownership
only 15%. First opened in 1992 and then re-opened after a major upgrade
in 2003. Annual production of 8 million tonnes worth $560 million based
on 2006 contract prices so WA royalty will be $21 million based on
3.75% rate.

Marandoo: Commissioned in 1994, this 100% Rio Tinto operation is
located about 45km from Tom Price and adjacent to the Karijini National
Park. The nominal production capacity of 15 million tonnes is worth
about $1.05 billion based on 2006 prices. Australian ownership is only
15% but the WA government collects a 3.75% royalty worth about $38
million this year.

Mt Tom Price: Rio Tinto’s oldest operation started
production in 1966 and still produces up to 20 million tonnes a year
worth up to $1.4 billion based on 2006 contract prices, although this is in decline. Australian ownership
only 15% through Rio but WA government royalty of 3.75% will produce
about $50 million this year.

Paraburdoo: 100% owned by Rio Tinto which is 15% Australian
owned. Produced 11 million tonnes in 2005 which is worth $770 million
based on 2006 prices so the WA royalty would be $29 million based on 3.75%.

Feedback, corrections and additions to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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