Oz mining tax under threat

MINING groups are nervously awaiting the results of a closely fought election in Australia, as current Prime Minister and mining tax enthusiast Julia Gillard fights to keep her job.

Gillard travelled to Western Australia yesterday, where the 30 per cent mining supertax is set to come into force in 2012, to appeal to voters ahead of the election on Saturday.

Mining giants Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Xstrata spent months fighting with the Labour government to reduce the levy on mining operations, leading to Gillard ousting former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as leader in June.

Gillard struck a deal with the companies to bring in a lesser charge, though opposition politicians in Australia have vowed to scrap the tax if they take power at the weekend.