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Perilya's $3M land tax hit

Tuesday, 15th March, 2016

By Andrew Robertson

As it prepares to cut jobs and production at Broken Hill, struggling miner Perilya is also looking to the state government for some financial relief.

It wants to defer lump sum payment of $3 million in land tax it owes the government, pending the outcome of its long-running land valuation dispute.

The company was slugged with five years’ worth of land tax assessments in a single year, according to company secretary Paul Marinko.

But it’s arguing the payment should be deferred because the assessments were based on disputed land valuations now before the High Court.

In 2012, the NSW Land and Environment Court slashed the 2007 value of Perilya’s Broken Hill properties by over $16 million, reducing the amount of land tax and council rates the company was required to pay.

The NSW Valuer-General successfully appealed the decision but the dispute, which could also see City Council repay almost $7m in rates revenue to the company, will now be decided by the High Court.

“There is an outstanding liability for land tax that is essentially contingent on the valuation case before the courts,” Mr Marinko said.

“What we have asked the government to do is defer enforcement of payment of that land tax pending the High Court decision.”

Mr Marinko said Perilya was seeking to extend a previous arrangement whereby it was paying the outstanding tax bill in monthly instalments. 

He expects a decision from the government by the end of the month.

“Clearly a $3 million impost right now is not something the operations can bear.

“(Local MP) Kevin Humphries has been pursuing that issue as well on our behalf and we have been talking directly to the Office of State Revenue.”

Tax bill deferment isn’t the only thing the company is seeking from the government, which holds the key to Perilya getting into the North Mine as soon as possible.

Mr Marinko said re-opening of the North will come too late to save the jobs the company is committed to shedding this month in order to stem ongoing losses.

But the sooner the company gets the green light to enter the North, the sooner it can begin employing people again.

“There is potential down the track to certainly pick up some of those people that were lost,” he said.

“What we’re looking for from government is prompt processing of applications and if they are done in a timely manner then that gives us greater assistance to essentially help ourselves.

“Like all miners, we wish it was a lot faster. We’re getting really good support from Kevin Humphries; he’s been lobbying very hard on our behalf and continues to do so, that’s always helpful.

“We have a mine operating plan for the North Mine that we are currently trying to extend; if we can get that extension we can probably go in as early as August and do some preliminary work.”

Perilya’s managing director Paul Arndt said in January that it could be four or five years before the company saw any return on its investment in the North.

But with uncertainty surrounding the southern operation only increasing, its development is seen as crucial to Perilya’s long term future in Broken Hill.

The Department of Planning and Environment said it only received Perilya’s application for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) requirements in the first week of March.

It said it was now consulting with Council and key state agencies and expected to issue requirements in the near future.

“It will then be up to Perilya to prepare the detailed EIS, and submit a development application for the project to the department,” a spokesperson said.

“The Department will then give the public a chance to have a say on the project before completing its assessment on the merits against clear rules and policies, which are the same for every applicant.”

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