Receiver puts abandoned Minto mine in the Yukon up for sale

A file photo of the Minto mine. Receiver PriceWaterhouseCoopers has put the since-abandoned property up for sale. (Capstone Mining Corp.)

Receiver PriceWaterhouseCoopers officially started the sale process last week

The abandoned Minto mine in central Yukon is officially up for sale.

Receiver PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which has been managing the Minto Metal Corp.’s affairs since July, issued a sales and investment solicitation document on its website for the property last week.

Potential buyers can place bids for either the entire Minto property — located approximately 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse, near Pelly Crossing — or pieces of it, with initial bids accepted until Oct. 6.

A timeline in the sale document states binding bids will be due Oct. 30, with an assessment period to follow. The firm hopes to select a successful bid — assuming there are any — before Dec. 31 and to have it approved by a judge within 60 days, anticipated to be Jan. 26, 2024.

Sale process 

The launch of the sale process is the latest in the growing saga of the most recently-abandoned mine in the territory; Minto Metal Corp. suddenly ceased operations at the site in May, leaving dozens of contractors, workers and Selkirk First Nation, on whose territory the mine sits, in the lurch.

Dozens of lawsuits and liens have been filed in the aftermath. The most recent figures from PriceWaterhouseCoopers say that while Minto has $75 million in assets, it also owes approximately $64 million-and-counting to a variety of creditors.

That debt, along with other costs such as paying outstanding financial security for the property — Minto Metals owed the Yukon government an additional $18 million before its collapse — and getting the mine up and running again, may make Minto a hard sell, Yukon Conservation Society mining analyst Lewis Rifkind said in an interview.

“There’s a lot of money that’s going to be required just to financially stabilize the site, let alone, you know, once you put boots on the ground, the environmental work [and] all that sort of stuff,” he said.

“Was it Mark Twain that said, you know, a mine is nothing more than a hole in the ground owned by a liar? Unfortunately we, as in Yukoners and the government, are the owners of this particular hole so it’ll be interesting to see if anyone actually does put a bid in for the entire project.”

“If someone buys this mine,” he added, “maybe we can sell them the bridge to Riverdale.”

$5.92 million to date on contracts

The Yukon government, in the meantime, continues to pay for care-and-maintenance activities at the site.

No one from the territorial Department of Energy, Mines and Resources was available for an interview. In an email, department spokesperson John Thompson wrote that the government has spent $5.92 million to date on contracts at the Minto mine since the site was abandoned in May, including for site operation, water treatment and technical support.

In total, the Yukon government has signed $20.5 million-worth of contracts for work that may be needed at the site up to the end of May 2024, though Thompson noted that there was “no certainty at this point that we would spend the entire amount.”

“Our focus at Minto mine is on ensuring the environment is protected and on beginning reclamation and closure activities,” he wrote.

“Water management continues to be a major focus at the site and will continue to be through all stages of reclamation and closure. We’re also working on the plan to reclaim the underground workings, one of the early and priority tasks associated with reclamation and closure.”

Before its collapse, Minto Metals had furnished just more than $75 million in financial security; Thompson said the Yukon government intends to access that money to cover its costs.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Northern Affairs minister approves Baffinland’s temporary production increase — with conditions, CBC News

Russia: New mining project sets sights on Chukotka in Russia’s eastern Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Jackie Hong, CBC News

Jackie Hong is a reporter for CBC North in Whitehorse. She was previously the courts and crime reporter at the Yukon News and, before moving North in 2017, was a reporter at the Toronto Star where she covered everything from murder trials to escaped capybaras.

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