General Mining

19.A36. Deduction for expenditure incurred in extraction, treatment and storage of minerals is provided for under Division 10 of the Act. In general, this Division allows a deduction for the cost of developmental works which would not qualify for any deduction under the normal depreciation provisions. The expenditure qualifying for deductions is provided for under the various categories of ‘allowable capital expenditure’ defined by section 122A. Some of these categories are:

  • (a) expenditure incurred in the preparation of a site, on buildings, and other improvements and plant necessary for carrying on the mining operations;
  • (b) expenditure on light, water and communications connected with the site and on ‘housing and welfare’ as defined in section 122 (1);

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    (c) treatment plant, storage facilities and buildings/plant connected therewith (‘treatment’ is restrictively defined in section 122(1)); and
  • (d) the costs of acquisition of a mining right or prospecting information.

The expenditure must in general be incurred by an enterprise that is in the course of conducting mining operations in Australia for the extraction of minerals, other than petroleum, from their natural site. These mining operations must be carried on for the purpose of producing assessable income; but in contrast to the position with regard to exploration expenditure under section 122J, the deduction is allowed against income generated from activities other than mining. ‘Mining operations’ in general covers the extractive process up to the stage where the mineral is obtained in manageable lumps.

19.A37. The categories of expenditure outlined above may be claimed as a deduction by writing off that expenditure over the estimated life of the mine to which it relates or over a term of twenty-five years, whichever is the less (section 122D).

19.A38. Alternatively, a taxpayer may elect to have the normal depreciation provisions applied to expenditure on a ‘unit of plant’ instead of having that expenditure deducted in accordance with Division 10. The annual rate of depreciation of any unit of plant is determined by the Commissioner on the basis of the effective life of the unit. This rate is increased by 50 per cent if depreciation is claimed on the diminishing value method.

19.A39. Certain categories of expenditure are expressly excluded from the ambit of the provisions outlined above:

  • (a) ships, railway rolling stock or road vehicles, or railway lines, roads, pipelines or other facilities used for the transportation of minerals (other than wholly within the mine site);
  • (b) buildings or other improvements in port facilities and other facilities for ships and port employees; and
  • (c) office buildings not on or adjacent to the site of mining operations.

Some of these items are depreciable in accordance with the normal depreciation provisions but others, particularly those items of expenditure under categories (b) and (c), are not deductible at all.

19.A40. The amortisation deduction under section 122D is a manifestation of the recognition that the profits of a mining venture cannot be effectively gauged for accounting or tax purposes until provision has been made for the recoupment from profits of capital employed in the venture.

19.A41. Under section 122 (3), the taxpayer has a distinct ‘residual capital expenditure’ in respect of each mining property on which he carries on prescribed mining operations. The deduction allowed under section 122D may not exceed net assessable income unless the taxpayer so elects, thereby allowing himself access to the loss provisions under section 80.

19.A42. Railways, roads, pipelines. Division 10AAA provides for deductions to be allowed over a period of twenty years for capital expenditure incurred on certain facilities used primarily and principally to transport minerals or products of minerals mined in Australia or Papua New Guinea for the purpose of producing assessable income. These facilities are defined in section 123 (2).

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19.A43. The deduction is available in respect of the undeducted capital expenditure incurred after 17 September 1974 on the cost of an eligible railway, road, pipeline or other facility used for the transport of minerals. If such expenditure was incurred between 1 July 1961 and 17 September 1974, it is deductible over a ten-year period under section 123B (1). Expenditure on earthworks, bridges, tunnels and cuttings necessary for a railway, road, pipeline or other facilities is deductible as is that incurred in obtaining a right to install a railway, etc. on land owned by another. Compensation payments (for damage or loss due to construction of a railway, etc.) fall within the ambit of this Division and are deductible. Deductions are available for the transport facilities even though they are used to transport materials resulting from the treatment or further processing of certain minerals.

19.A44. The cost of transport facilities used wholly within the mine site which is deductible under Division 10 is not deductible under Division 10AAA; nor are petroleum transport facilities where the transport forms part of petroleum mining operations which are deductible under Division 10AA (see below).

19.A45. A taxpayer may claim a deduction under Division 10AAA even though not himself engaged in mining operations which produce the minerals being transported.

19.A46. Any expenditure eligible for deduction under this Division is deductible in equal instalments over twenty years, commencing with the first year in which the facility is used to transport minerals or their products for the purpose of gaining assessable income.

19.A47. Expenditure on railway rolling-stock, road vehicles and ships is specifically excluded from the application of the Division. If rolling-stock and vehicles are used for transport wholly within the mine site, a deduction may be available under Division 10; if not, they (in addition to ships) are depreciable under sections 54 to 62.

19.A48. No deductions are available with respect to expenditure on ports and port facilities.