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Receiver scraps plan to sell Yukon's abandoned Minto mine

The copper-gold Minto mine in central Yukon was abandoned last year. In a submission to Yukon Supreme Court last week, the receiver in charge of the mine's assets said a plan to sell the mine project has failed, and it's now proposing to liquidate all the assets by the end of next month.  (Government of Yukon - image credit)
The copper-gold Minto mine in central Yukon was abandoned last year. In a submission to Yukon Supreme Court last week, the receiver in charge of the mine's assets said a plan to sell the mine project has failed, and it's now proposing to liquidate all the assets by the end of next month. (Government of Yukon - image credit)

Nearly a year after the sudden closure of the Minto gold and copper mine near Pelly Crossing, Yukon, the receiver put in charge of the company's assets has given up on trying to find a buyer for the project.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is now seeking court approval for a plan to liquidate the abandoned mine's assets and pay back creditors.

Last May, Minto Metals Co. announced without warning that it had ceased operations at the mine site. The Yukon government then took control of the site, which is on Selkirk First Nation settlement land.

The Yukon Supreme Court appointed PwC as the receiver in charge the mine's assets and the company put the mine up for sale last summer.

In a report submitted to the court by PwC on March 28, the company outlined its efforts to find a buyer for the
mine. It outlined the details of negotiations with three potential buyers, and highlighted one offer made by a Canadian exploration company referred to as "Bidder 3."

According to the report, the perceived benefits of Bidder 3's offer outweighed areas of concern. However, after meeting with affected governments, including the Yukon government and Selkirk First Nation, 30 times, PwC determined that it would not be possible to come to a sale agreement.

Now, PwC is instead proposing to liquidate all assets associated with the Minto mine by the end of May. The plan still needs approval by the court.

The Yukon Government remains responsible for the mine's remediation. This is expected to take three years and cost roughly $95 million, around $20 million more than the financial security paid by Minto Metals.

In the legislature this week, the opposition Yukon Party questioned whether the territorial government had done enough to facilitate the mine's sale. Leader Currie Dixon said he wants to know exactly why the bid was dropped.

"We don't know what the key issues were that they had run into," Dixon said. "There were problems obviously, between the Selkirk First Nation and Yukon government."

John Streicker, minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, said during question period that environmental protection, First Nations governance, and repaying creditors have been priorities throughout the process.

PwC says it borrowed $1 million for receivership activities, and incurred $950,000 in fees for its work so far.