July 28, 2016
Moreton Resources – the mining company hoping to get approval for an open-cut coal mine near Kingaroy – has been hit with an $8.18 million bill from the tax office.
CEO Jason Elks notified the ASX on Thursday that the Australian Taxation Office had demanded repayment of $8,185,724.63 before August 26.
The money is linked to the failed Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) trial that Moreton – then known as Cougar Energy – conducted at Coolabunia, and is the subject of an ongoing hearing in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Mr Elks described the correspondence from the ATO as “disappointing” as the mediation date in the Tribunal was only days away (August 5).
The ATO is seeking repayment of $1,003,455.22 for a 2012 research and development tax offset, and $7,182,269.41 for a 2013 R&D offset.
“This claim is based upon the AusIndustry Registration issues which is (sic) currently under due process for review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal,” Mr Elks told the ASX.
“Without going into the merits of the claim that Moreton Resources Limited seeks to pursue through the AAT, it is based upon the former UCG trial, which was approved as a trial project under the Qld UCG Policy of 2009 and was undertaken by three trial participants.
“The Qld Government moved in 2016 to abandon and legislate against UCG in the State, as it was unable to prove it was a viable and proven alternate energy solution in the State.
“Whether this was a proven commercial activity or a research and development project is at the centre of the claim and will be the basis of the AAT considerations.
“The Company will update the market in the coming weeks relating to this latest advice from the ATO.”
Mr Elks said in his statement to the ASX that Moreton’s claims and submissions to the AAT had been made “with the support and guidance of several top tier accounting firms who specialise in R&D activities and support the view that these are valid and reasonable claims”.
Cougar Energy’s trial UCG plant ran briefly on March 15-16, 2010, until a failure in a well casing halted gas production.
At the time, Cougar Energy said the halt was only temporary but after protests by local residents and intervention by DERM, the trial did not re-start.