Mining-Specific Tax Provisions

Mining activities—including concentrating, smelting, and refining—are eligible for the following special tax treatments under Canada’s corporate income tax laws:

Provincial and Territorial Mining Taxes and Royalties Deduction

Mining taxes and royalties paid to a province or territory with respect to income from a mineral resource are fully deductible when computing income for federal income tax purposes.

Capital Cost Allowances

Most capital assets acquired by mining and oil and gas companies qualify for a depreciation rate of 25% on a declining balance basis. The depreciation of tangible assets is allowed under the system of capital cost allowances (CCA). The capital cost of each particular depreciable asset used to gain or produce resource income is allocated to the appropriate class of assets for which a maximum annual depreciation rate is prescribed. Government assistance, such as grants and investment tax credits, plus proceeds from the disposition of assets (not exceeding the acquisition cost), are deducted from the class.

Accelerated Capital Cost Allowances

In addition to the normal 25% rate of depreciation accorded to capital assets, the accelerated capital cost allowance (ACCA) can provide for a depreciation allowance of up to 100% of the asset cost. To be eligible for that accelerated depreciation, however, assets must have been acquired before the beginning of commercial production, or for major expansions, or (since 1996) for the portion of investment expenditures in excess of 5% of gross income from the mine.

ACCAs for oil sands projects were phased out in 2014. ACCAs for mining, as proposed in Budget 2013, will be phased out over 2017-2020 as follows:

Transition Schedule of ACCA for Mining
Year 2013-2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 After 2020
Percentage 100% 90% 80% 60% 30% 0%

Canadian Exploration Expense Claims

Canadian exploration expenses (CEEs) are those incurred by the taxpayer for determining the existence, location, extent, or quality of a mineral resource, or petroleum or natural gas, in Canada. Until 2018, CEEs also include some expenses involved in bringing a new mine into production, including clearing, removing overburden, stripping, and sinking a mine shaft. CEEs are 100% deductible in the year in which they occur. Taxpayers can carry unused balances forward indefinitely or transfer them to flow-through-share investors.

Transition Schedule for Mining Pre-Production Development Expenses
Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 After 2017
CEE proportion 100% 100% 80% 60% 30% 0%
CDE proportion 0% 0% 20% 40% 70% 100%

See Section 66.1(6) of the Income Tax Act for more information.

Canadian Development Expense Claims

Canadian development expenses (CDEs) are those incurred in:

  • sinking or excavating a mine shaft, main haulage way, or similar underground work for a mine in Canada built or excavated after the mine came into production
  • pre-production mine development expenses (after 2017)
  • the cost of any Canadian mineral property

CDEs can be deducted at a 30% declining balance. Unclaimed balances can be carried forward indefinitely or transferred to flow-through-share investors (excluding the cost of any Canadian mineral property).

See Section 66.1(6) of the Income Tax Act for more information.

Qualifying Environmental Trusts

Under a qualifying environmental trust (QET), contributions to qualifying mine reclamation trusts can be deducted in the year in which they occurred for income tax purposes.

Foreign Resource Expense and Foreign Exploration and Development Expense Claims

Canadian mining companies that incur exploration and development expenses abroad can claim the Foreign Resource Expense (FRE) on a country-by-country basis for income tax purposes. The basic FRE deduction for each country is between 10% and 30% of the cumulative FRE balance for that country, with the upper limit restricted to the amount of available foreign resource income for that country. However, a supplemental FRE deduction may be permitted if the country limitation results in a global FRE claim of less than 30%.

Note: Before 2001, all foreign exploration and development expenses (FEDE) incurred by a Canadian corporation were accumulated in one global tax "pool" called the FEDE balance. If an FEDE pool still exists, the corporation must first take an FEDE deduction equal to the available foreign resource income of the year or 10% of the available FEDE, whichever is greater.

Flow-Through Shares

A flow-through share (FTS) allows a principal business corporation (PBC) to obtain financing for expenditures on mineral exploration and development in Canada.

By issuing flow-through shares, a company can “flow through” certain expenses to the share purchaser. These expenses are then deemed to have been incurred by the investor, not the corporation, which can reduce the investor’s taxable income.

For individual investors, the advantages can be twofold:

  • They receive a 100% tax deduction for the amount they invested in the shares, plus a 15% tax credit in the case of an eligible expense.
  • They may see their investment appreciate if the exploration is successful.

FTS-issuing corporations do not have to be Canadian, but they must be Canadian taxpayers that incur the expenses in Canada on qualified activities. Resource expenses that may be flowed through include Canadian exploration expenses (CEEs) and certain Canadian development expenses (CDEs).

Mineral Exploration Tax Credit

The Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC) is a 15% credit designed to help exploration companies raise equity funds in addition to the regular tax deduction associated with flow-through-share investments. The METC was intended as a temporary counter-cyclical incentive when it was introduced. It is scheduled to expire on March 31, 2017.

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