Queensland mining project rendered ineligible for the R&D Tax Incentive by the AAT

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has upheld Innovation and Science Australia’s decision that a series of coal mining activities conducted by Coal of Queensland Pty Ltd (COQ) were not “core R&D activities” and were therefore ineligible for the R&D Tax Incentive.

As part of a three year project, COQ registered a number of core R&D activities in the 2011/12 financial year, claiming that their attempts to make the process of extracting coal from certain deposits commercially viable were eligible to be claimed under the Research and Development Tax Incentive.

The activities included the surveying of deposits, drilling (to validate the survey results) and analysing the samples extracted during the drilling process.

After reviewing the claim however, Innovation and Science Australia rejected it, insisting that the registered activities did not meet the eligibility requirements for the incentive.

COQ challenged Innovation and Science Australia’s ruling and took them to the AAT, but to no avail, as the AAT upheld the decision to disallow the R&D claim.

The AAT’s decision was based on the court’s belief that the activities undertaken by COQ represented “prospecting or drilling for minerals for the purposes of discovering deposits, determining more precisely the location of deposits and/or determining the size or quality of deposits”, which is specifically excluded from being a core R&D activity under the R&D Tax Incentive legislation.

Written by Benjamin Kluwgant