The spike in coal prices has delivered an AU$1 billion windfall to Queensland, the state government said in its Mid-year Fiscal and Economic Review, helping the state to its largest net operating surplus since 2005-06.
Coal royalties – which were expected to reach AUS$1.5 billion – are now forecast to contribute almost AUS$3 billion over the current financial year, which runs to June 2017.
Some of this will now be spent in an AUS$200 million jobs and regional growth package – a move that was welcomed by Queensland Resources Council (QRC) CEO Ian Macfarlane, who called the state’s regional communities the “backbone of resource operations.”
“Today’s decision is a welcome reminder that when the natural resources sector is doing well, the entire Queensland economy benefits,” Macfarlane said in a statement. “No one is saying that coal prices will stay this high forever, but Queensland should make have while the resource sun is shining so brightly.
Queensland Treasury figures forecast a tailing off of coal revenues from AUS$3 billion in the current financial year to around AUS$2 billion in the years to 2019-20. And Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt made sure to dampen expectations of a new mining boom.
“When announcing the revision of the 2015-16 surplus, I said we would not be accepting higher resource royalties as the ‘new normal’,” Pitt said. Rather the government’s plan was to transition to a “post-mining boom economy”.