The Yukon government is planning to spend three years remediating the Minto mine site, regardless of whether another company buys it. The Minto Mine, located north of Whitehorse on Selkirk First Nation (SFN) Category A settlement land, ceased operations last May and was abandoned by the Minto Metals Corporation, leaving the Yukon government to take over care and maintenance.

“Needless to say, ceasing operations at the Minto mine was an extremely difficult and disappointing decision that was not taken lightly,” said Chris Stewart, the president and CEO of Minto Metals. “We are acting responsibly in co-ordination with the Yukon government to avoid any damage to the environment. We will update the market with future plans for Minto Metals as soon as possible.”

A court decision on July 24 addressed unpaid royalties for Selkirk First Nations (SFN) and confirmed the Government of Yukon may advance planning for reclamation and closure of Minto mine site. It also appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as receiver for Minto Metals Corporation. As appointed receiver, PricewaterhouseCoopers will manage the Minto Metal Corporation business and property in the best interest of creditors. PricewaterhouseCoopers can seek sale of the mine and assets, if possible, in its entirety to a single purchaser.

The abandoned Minto mine is located on SFN Category A Settlement Land and the government continues to work closely with the First Nation. The resolution of royalties owing to Yukon government on behalf of Selkirk First Nation was agreed to by all parties.

As a regulator, the Yukon government’s focus is ensuring that the environment remains protected at the Minto mine site. The Government of Yukon stepped in quickly when Minto discontinued operations on short notice. Water treatment on site continues and storage capacity is increasing.

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The Yukon government holds financial security for the site and intends to access this funding to cover the costs of the reclamation work.

Receivership proceedings have since been underway to seek a buyer for the mine and use the proceeds to pay creditors wed money by Minto. Sumitomo Canada Ltd. initiated the receivership of the mine through legal action, claiming it was owed $5.7 million.

The Yukon government hired JDS Mining to provide emergency environmental management services at the site and they started on-site work on May 13, 2023.

In February, hearings focused on the reclamation and closure work being undertaken at the mine by a Yukon government contractor. The court heard that approximately $16 million has been spent on reclamation and that underground reclamation is complete. Plans for 2024 include the remediation of earthworks and the pumping of water from a surface pit underground to allow for the dumping of waste materials.

The Yukon government’s legal counsel asked for an adjournment so they and other creditors could consider options related to an insurance claim. The insurance policy contains a measure stating that the maximum to be paid would be $20 million.

A court date has been set for April 5, 2024 to hear more about a possible sale of the mine.

Featured image: The Minto mine – which began operations in 2007, started underground mining in 2014, and ceased operations in 2023 – is situated within the traditional territory of the Selkirk First Nation. Credit: Minto Metals Corporation.

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