The Minerals Council of Australia has hit out at the state government for its plan to introduce a gold royalty, describing the move as a tax grab on Victorian gold miners that will cost jobs, threaten investment and hit the mining industry hard across Victoria.

The government announced the surprise move as part of Monday’s budget, and said the introduction of a gold royalty brings Victoria into line with other states.

The MCA said the Victorian government’s planned royalty was higher than Western Australian gold royalties, and ignores the fact that most of Victoria’s gold mines are smaller than other states and face a far less favourable regulatory regime.

Kirkland Lake Gold’s vice-president of Australian operations Ian Holland told ABC Radio the company, which operates the Fosterville gold mine, does not see an impact on jobs or the company’s immediate investment into the local region.

“As the most significant gold mining company in Victoria, we were certainly disappointed by the lack of consultation in the process.” Mr Holland said.

“To have this announced without any prior discussion is disappointing from our end.”

The Fosterville Gold Mine employs 600 staff, and has reported some of the highest gold grades globally in recent years.

Estimated gold reserves were recently upgraded by 60 per cent to 2.7 million ounces.

Production in 2019 may top 600,000 ounces, up from 350,000 ounces last year, which would make Fosterville one of Australia’s top five gold producers.