Global Mining Investing $69.95, 2 Volume e-Book Set. Buy here.
Author, Andrew Sheldon

Global Mining Investing is a reference eBook to teach investors how to think and act as investors with a underlying theme of managing risk. The book touches on a huge amount of content which heavily relies on knowledge that can only be obtained through experience...The text was engaging, as I knew the valuable outcome was to be a better thinker and investor.

While some books (such as Coulson’s An Insider’s Guide to the Mining Sector) focus on one particular commodity this book (Global Mining Investing) attempts (and does well) to cover all types of mining and commodities.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

The cost of one really bad 'resource tax' decision

It is worthwhile doing an analysis of exactly what PM Kevin Rudd has done to Australia. Even if he backs down from this policy, I think he has done permanent damage to the reputation of Australia as a safe place to invest. You need to understand that Malaysia pays a higher cost of capital than Australia. The reason is that its a smaller country, developing country, with relatively undeveloped capital markets, unpredictable public policy framework. The implication is that when the Malaysian government pegged its exchange rate back in 1993 Asian Currency Crisis, it was the type of policy you would expect from a 'recalcitrant' leader of a third world economy.
The implications of Rudd threatening or planning to raise taxes on miners has the same impact on investors. He is doing something without warning, with huge detrimental implications to investors, which stretches far beyond mining companies. I estimate that his actions will cost Australia in net present value terms the equivalent of $A2o billion a year. This is a rough figure, though it is very conservative. Consider our risk exposure:
1. Lost mining investment: I would expect some $A300 billion of mining investment over the next 20 years. I believe it would fall by around 16% per annum if Rudd adopts his policy. If we assume national income is half of this investment, in terms of wages, royalties, taxes, and we prepare a NPV for this money stream, then we are looking at a loss of $A10 billion.
2. Lost general investment: Foreign investors will look at this decision and wonder whether they ought to invest in Australia, so the implications will extend beyond Australia's mining sector. The implication is that Australia's reputation will be damaged for a long time. The damage has already been done in fact because there is always the possibility of it happening again. The fear is not in people's minds; it will take years to erode. This can be expected to have a smaller impact I think because most will recognise that this is an opportunistic policy - say a cost of $1 billion a year.
3. Higher interest rates: It is probable that Australia's sovereign credit risk rating will rise if this policy is adopted, particularly on the corporate debt of miners. It will also have an impact on the cost of capital of households. The increase because of it might be of the order of 0.1%, however given the large size of Australia's household and corporate debt, this is going to be a lot of money leaving the country because of Rudd. I think household debt is around 102% of GDP, which is around $750 billion annually, so 0.1% of $A750 is another $0.75 billion.
4. Capital loss: Consider the implication of his decision on the value of all Australian mining stocks with investments in Australia. He has also opened up the prospect of similar policies being adopted overseas. Of course if his policy is copied that would be relatively good for Australia, but absolutely worse for everyone. We don't want govts controlling the money, as they are hopeless. So direct investors have probably lost $3 billion, portfolio investors and fund managers have probably lost $7 billion, and that's just to date. Another $5 billion when the policy is legislated.
5. Investment loss: What about the opportunity cost of write off's for project values which would otherwise have been sold to investors. e.g. MLX has a world class nickel resource. A Chinese company was likely to have bought a stake in the mine through development funds. The project is no longer worth as much because of the new tax imposts. Impact probably $1 billion a year, rising to $2 billion in 10 years.
6. Legal suits: Also consider the prospect of a law suit by these foreign and domestic companies which have spent money acquiring projects, only to find out that the government has overnight changed the tax regime. So taxpayers will be paying out another $5 billion in law suits.

Decades ago security of supply was a 'BIG' consideration for Japanese investors in Australia's mining sector. I actually think this fear has died because of the more globally liberalised markets evident today. Removal of tariffs has helped achieve a seamless integration of markets. The Chinese market is 10x bigger in terms of population than Japan, so they mean a great deal of investment to Australia. We are in the front seat to supply these countries, but because of Rudd, we will miss out on some of this investment. I suggest there will be more interest in Indonesian, PNG, NZ iron ore, coal, oil & gas. Oman and Yemen will become appealing to companies like Shell and Woodside. That is the impact of Rudd. He will be on par with President Chivez (?) of Venezuela, who nationalised the local oil industry. What is the difference to investors? A capital loss because of some arbitrary government policy is a loss one way or another. That is a lot of damage to Australia's balance sheet. I guess its good to know this before some 'sorry' people consider him a nation's leader for another term of government. Learn more about this issue on my taxation blog.
Andrew Sheldon
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Investment Strategy

If you are investing for the long term, you still need an investment strategy. Dont be fooled by the rhetoric of fund managers. The reason they advise you to 'buy & hold' is because they dont want to compete with you in sell-offs. Markets and industrial sectors are cyclical, so they demand trading to get the best returns. Fund managers actually cant hope to match the performance of small investors (if you are half good) because they have to manage huge amounts of funds and charge you a fee besides.
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