The federal royalty rate for trona was recently reduced from 6-percent to 4%. Industry has been pushing for royalty reductions for over a decade. But Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Jill Morrison says if anything, the royalty should be increased.
“Our position has always been that minerals are a finite resource. Once they’re removed they’re gone and we have that one chance to tax those minerals and get that fair market value because that’s what’s going to help balance our budget, both at the state and national level,” says Morrison.
Morrison adds that some of the companies mining trona in Wyoming are foreign owned or have foreign parent companies, which she says makes cutting their taxes even less desirable.
The trona deposits lie across federal, state and private lands. The state royalty rate is 6%. Royalties on private lands aren't typically disclosed, but have been higher than the public rates in the past.
But industry says it needs this tax break in order to be able to compete in the international marketplace with subsidized companies in China. Some companies have said they’ll use the additional funds to ramp up production and make capital improvements.