Rio Tinto’s 2023 Australian tax and royalties bill reaches $A10b as iron ore dues top up State coffers

Article by Simone Grogan courtesy of the West Australian.

Iron ore major Rio Tinto paid the State Government more than $US2 billion ($3b) in royalties during 2023 out of a total $US6.6b Australian tax bill for the year.

The miner — which derives the bulk of its income from iron ore operations in WA — paid $US2.2b in overall taxes and royalties to the State Government compared to a $US2.1b payment for 2022, according to a report released on Thursday.

Rio paid $US8.5b in taxes and royalties globally with $US6.6b of that paid in Australia. The mining giant forked out about $US4.1b in corporate tax to the Australian Tax Office.

Rio’s chief financial officer Peter Cunningham said the company was “committed to being a leader on transparent tax reporting”.

“The taxes and royalties we pay play an important role in economic and social development, and can be significant for national budgets and local development priorities such as job creation and skills training,” Mr Cunningham said.

“It is important to us that we make this contribution openly and transparently, as part of our responsibility to extract value from the minerals and materials we produce in the safest and most sustainable way possible.”

He also said Rio was one of the biggest taxpayers in the country and said the company had paid $81.7b in Australian taxes and royalties over the past 10 years.

Australia represents nearly half of Rio’s global business and employs about 24,369 people.

During 2023, Rio said it had spent $727m with Indigenous-owned suppliers, 29 per cent more than in the previous year. Rio’s engagement with Traditional Owners has been subject to intense scrutiny since the company destroyed sacred rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in 2020.

In late 2023, Rio signed a memorandum of understanding with the Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation — an Indigenous group based in the Pilbara — to work through opportunities for new renewable energy projects.

Overall spend with about 5800 Australian businesses was $16.1b, a 5.2 per cent increase on the previous year.