If you ever needed a lesson in the pitfalls of negotiating under pressure, take a look at the mess created by the agreement of the terms of the revised Mining Resources Rent Tax between the large miners, and the Federal government . If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.

In simple terms, the deal which set MRRT rates was with the Federal government, but the states own the resources, and already do, and will continue to levy, a royalty payment on tonnes extracted.

The miners thought the MRRT rate was inclusive of any increase by the states in Royalties, so they had a reliable ceiling on the total tax paid, the Feds say no such condition was agreed, and the states are cash strapped, and looking for revenue, where better than the miners in a boom.

All parties stuffed up royally by making assumptions in a pressure cooker negotiation, and not articulating them in the discussions, and written agreement.

This is easy to do under pressure, but these guys are supposed to be experts, so it is unbelievable that such a basic oversight occurred. The lesson is that whatever you do, take some time away from the scramble and pressure of “completing” a negotiation before an agreement is executed to ensure all the bases are covered.