Mining royalties boon for regions

Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga is already rubbing his hands together at the prospect of his district getting millions of dollars in mining royalties.

A policy of paying one-quarter of minerals royalties back to the regions from which resources are taken has been floated by New Zealand First.

And while Mr Tregidga isn't expecting the money to start rolling in any time soon, he says such a scheme would mean districts rich in minerals and resources would get their fair share of the wealth they generated.

Announcing his party's  ''royalties for regions'' policy, NZ First leader Winston Peters said it would have seen $96m of the $383m in royalties collected in 2011 go to areas the resources were extracted from.

''It could have been used to help regenerate regional New Zealand by expanding job opportunities and building a sound economic base.''

Similar schemes operate in several Australian states, such as mineral-rich Western Australia, which last year poured 25 per cent - almost A$1.5b -  of its mining and onshore petroleum royalties into regional development.

Queensland last year began a similar, A$495m, four-year programme and will then commit A$200m per year to spending in resource-rich areas.

Mr Tregidga said the policy harmonised with a joint submission on the Crown Minerals Act made to government last year by the district council and mining giant and Martha mine operator, Newmont Waihi Gold.

He said one of New Zealand's biggest and most lucrative gold mines was in his electoral back yard but the region was yet to see any royalties from it.  Currently all royalties paid by NWG, which operates three gold mines in Waihi, and has another in the pipeline, go to Government coffers.

Mr Tregidga was adamant a portion of that revenue should be invested back into the Waihi community to ensure its ongoing sustainability.

"I've always been disappointed that none of the royalties collected from mining are going back to the Waihi community," said Mr Tregidga.

"For us it's not about putting the money into the council coffers to build things. It's about the long term sustainability of the community,'' he said.

However, he concedes he doesn't expect anything to change overnight.

"It won't happen in the short term, but it's something we're working towards. It is unacceptable for all those royalties to go to government and not acknowledge the contribution the Waihi community has made."