Canada’s finance minister unveiled a series of legislative proposals on August 4, 2023 aimed at making significant changes to the flow-through share regime, particularly as regards lithium exploration. Although a number of these changes had already been announced in the 2023 federal budget, e.g. the inclusion of lithium brine in the “mineral resources” definition, they had not really affected junior exploration companies in Quebec since this type of lithium is virtually non-existent in the province. More targeted change However, the recent proposals include a more targeted change for mining companies exploring for traditional “hard rock” lithium, which is much more common in Quebec. These proposals include amending the definition of “mineral resources” to systematically includetraditional hard-rock lithium in the list set out in section 248 of the Income Tax Act (the “Act”). The consequences As a consequence of this change, the requirement for mining companies to obtain a certificate issued by Natural Resources Canada will be eliminated. The application process for this certificate represented a heavy administrative burden for exploration companies. Moreover, lengthy processing times often delayed the conclusion of flow-through share subscription agreements. This change is a timely one: growing numbers of companies are refocusing on exploring for lithium rather than for more traditional metals such as gold. This reflects not only the market’s infatuation with lithium, but also the recent 30% tax credit potentially available to investors incurring mining exploration expenses involving critical metals. Proceed with caution For the time being, however, these legislative proposals only apply to lithium; they do not cover all critical minerals. Mining exploration companies should proceed with caution if they plan to explore for other types of critical minerals such as graphite and rare earth elements, for example. This is because a mineral resources certificate issued by Natural Resources Canada may still required in those cases. Our team of professionals specializing in securities, mining law and taxation is available to answer any questions you may have concerning this new measure and to guide you in arranging a successful flow-through financing.
The international mining and minerals industry is greatly affected by fluctuating demand in major markets and the impact of those fluctuations on prices. In Québec, the renewal of Plan Nord and the modernization of the legal framework governing exploration and exploitation have enabled mining companies to better plan their activities when global markets are favourable to them since competitiveness is a decisive factor in the decision to undertake or pursue mining projects. An understanding of the applicable laws and regulations at every stage of the mining cycle is critical to the success of such projects.
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On March 21, 2023, Quebec’s Minister of Finance tabled his budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. One of the budget’s key measures is the introduction of a new tax holiday in connection with major investment projects. At first glance, the new measure does not appear to be specifically aimed at the mining industry, but some mining companies involved in the extraction of critical and strategic minerals and planning substantial investments in the near future could greatly benefit from it. Under the new tax exemption, a corporation or partnership that carries out an investment project of more than $100 million in Quebec will be eligible, under certain conditions, for an income tax holiday and a holiday from the employer contribution to the Health Services Fund. As far as income tax is concerned, this new 10-year tax holiday consists of a deduction in the calculation of the company’s taxable income. The deduction is calculated by applying a rate of 15%, 20% or 25% to the cumulative total of eligible project expenditures. Since this tax measure is intended to promote investment outside major urban centres, the rate will vary according to the project’s location, ranging from 15% for projects in areas with high economic vitality, to 20% for projects in areas with intermediate economic vitality and up to 25% for those in areas with low economic vitality. The higher rates of 20% and 25% are more likely to apply to mining projects, which are generally located in remote areas with lower economic vitality. The critical and strategic minerals identified in the context of this measure are the following: antimony, bismuth, cadmium, caesium, copper, tin, gallium, indium, tellurium, zinc, cobalt, rare-earth elements, platinum-group elements, graphite (natural), lithium, magnesium, nickel, niobium, scandium, tantalum, titanium and vanadium. Let’s briefly consider the example of a mining company carrying out a major investment project for lithium mining in the Nord-du-Québec administrative region, designated by the Quebec government as a territory with intermediate economic vitality. During the investment phase, while the mine is being developed and built, the company incurs $200 million worth of eligible expenditures, which are capital expenditures for new mining equipment and heavy machinery for lithium extraction and processing. Evidently, the company will probably sustain a loss during the investment phase, and, because it has no taxable income, it will not be able to immediately benefit from the tax holiday. However, should the company have taxable income of $50 million in year 5, after four years of investment and mine development, it will be able to deduct $40 million of this taxable income under the new tax holiday, reducing its taxable income to $10 million for that year. This $40 million deduction is based on the application of the 20% rate for territories with intermediate economic vitality to the $200 million of eligible expenditures for the mining project. Another point relevant to the mining industry is that the income tax holiday will apply only to tax payable under the provisions of the Taxation Act. In other words, this tax holiday will not reduce the amounts payable under the Mining Tax Act. With respect to the Health Services Fund, companies will generally be eligible for an employer contribution holiday on wages paid to employees for pay periods falling within the exemption period for major investment projects. In order to benefit from this new tax holiday, companies will have to obtain an initial certificate, as well as annual attestations issued by the Quebec Minister of Finance. Our team of professionals specializing in mining and tax law is available to answer all your questions regarding this new measure and to assist you in your mining investment projects in Quebec.
We are pleased to announce that Lavery has once again been recognized in the 2024 edition of Chambers Global in the following sectors: Intellectual Property (Canada) - Band 4 Intellectual Property Litigation (Canada) - Band 4 These recognitions are further demonstration of the expertise and quality of legal services that characterize Lavery’s professionals. Two lawyers have been recognized as leaders in their respective areas of practice in the 2024 edition of the Chambers Global guide. Areas of expertise in which they are recognized: René Branchaud : Mining (International & Cross-Border) - Band 5 Sébastien Vézina : Mining (International & Cross-Border) - Band 5 Since 1990, Chambers and Partners' ranks the best law firms and lawyers across 200 jurisdictions throughout the world. The lawyers and law firms profiled in Chambers are selected following through a rigorous process of research and interviews with a broad spectrum of lawyers and their clients. The final selection is based on clearly defined criteria such as the quality of client service, legal expertise, and commercial astuteness. About LaveryLavery is the leading independent law firm in Québec. Its more than 200 professionals, based in Montréal, Québec City, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, work every day to offer a full range of legal services to organizations doing business in Québec. Recognized by the most prestigious legal directories, Lavery professionals are at the heart of what is happening in the business world and are actively involved in their communities. The firm's expertise is frequently sought after by numerous national and international partners to provide support in cases under Québec jurisdiction.