Red-tape 'suffocating industry'

THE resources industry has become increasingly suffocated by red-tape and over-regulation since former Labor Prime Minister took office in 2007.

Fronting a charity event in Brisbane on Friday, Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese warned that Australia was being perceived as a risky destination to invest in.

The London multi-national has four coal operations west of Mackay in Central Queensland and stakes in three alumina projects and a power station near Gladstone.

Mr Albanese said he did not want to see Brisbane or Queensland follow the path trodden by the United States, where enthusiastic regulators had "chased the sector away".

He specifically pointed to "more than 16,000" new pieces of regulation forced on the mining industry in the past five years.

Only 79 had been repealed.

"It's great for hiring lots of permit people and hiring lawyers," Mr Albanese said.

"It's not great if you're trying to develop a project and it's really not great if you're a small start-up trying to get your first project going."

Mining projects in Australia at the moment could often be delay "a few years", compared to the US where an approval could blow out to up to 15.

"We began having the same debate in the US in the late 80s and 90s, that we're having (in Australia) now," he said.

"I can remember a number of meetings I had with stakeholders saying, 'I'm going to have to learn Spanish to stay in the mining industry' because it's going to go outside the US."

Mr Albanese said he "concurred" with how both the state and federal governments were now trying to address red tape.



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