In a move long sought by mineral explorers active in Canada, Canada’s federal government has extended its mineral exploration tax credit (METC) for five years, in contrast to the prior tradition of renewing it annually.
The news came in November as part of the government’s fall economic statement, which included a $17.6-billion suite of business-friendly tax measures and investments that should benefit firms in the mineral sector.
The METC allows qualifying explorers (that don’t generate revenue from which to deduct expenses) to pass deductions on to investors by selling them flow-through shares. Investors also get an extra 15% tax credit when investing in what are now known as “super flow-through shares.”
The latest iteration of the METC was set to expire on March 31, 2019.
The government estimates the METC extension will lower revenues by $365 million over the five years.
Between 2010 and 2016, companies raised an average $505 million each year under the METC, according to the government.
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) says this marks the first multi-year extension of the METC since its iteration was introduced in 2000. It was later renewed annually by successive governments.
“We are pleased that the government has heard our concerns about Canada’s waning competitiveness and adopted our recommendation,” says Lisa McDonald, PDAC interim executive director and chief operating officer.
The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) also lauded the government for announcing two other tax measures, which should help miners and metal producers by helping firms write off three times the eligible costs of newly bought assets in the acquisition year, and write off the full cost of clean energy equipment.
“The enhanced treatment of capital expenditures in the first year for mining and metal manufacturing provides an important incentive to invest in Canada,” MAC head Pierre Gratton says. “The write-off of the full cost of clean energy equipment will serve to incentivize investments in northern Canada where access to grid power does not exist, supporting a transition to low carbon energy alternatives.”
Gratton adds that he hopes miners can write off the cost of switching to electric haul trucks and other equipment.
MAC welcomed several other measures in the government announcement: another $800 million over five years for the Strategic Innovation Fund; a commitment to boost overseas exports 50% by 2025; a proposed $13.6-million increase to the multimodal integrated passenger-freight information system; bolstering the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service; a suite of proposals to improve regulatory competitiveness; and accelerated investment of $773.9 million over the next five years of national, trade-corridors funding.
MAC notes these moves will help Canada compete for investment in light of recent tax changes in the United States.