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Although the Canadian government has assumed responsibility for 
Cantungthe property is still technically 
owned by North American Tungsten, which is currently being run by Alvarez & Marsal, a court-appointed monitor.



Why, after 6 years, the N.W.T. gov't still hasn't sold its tungsten mining project

 

Six years after taking the extraordinary step of purchasing the Mactung property — a tungsten mineral exploration project straddling the N.W.T.-Yukon border — the N.W.T. government continues to plod ahead with the complex process of trying to sell it.

Each step of the sale involves a detailed back and forth between a dozen separate governments, a court-ordered monitor in charge of a miner in bankruptcy protection and an undisclosed number of interested mining companies. 

To make matters even more convoluted, the Mactung project is being sold in tandem with another mining property — the former Cantung mine. Both of these properties were held by North American Tungsten before it went into bankruptcy protection in 2015.

 

"It's the most complicated process I've seen in terms of a sales transaction," said John Ketchum, director of the N.W.T. Geological Survey. 

But it continues, if slowly. 

The territorial government, federal government, and more than 10 N.W.T. and Yukon First Nations governments have approved a list of qualified bidders for the two tungsten projects.

Ketchum said a request for proposal is now out to that short-list of prospective buyers.

"It's a confidential process," Ketchum said, when asked for details on the identities and number of bidders. Releasing company names at this stage, he said, could affect how they are valued and traded on the stock market. "There's a lot of sensitivity around the process."

Why does the N.W.T. even own a mining project?

Back in the fall of 2015, a few months after failing Vancouver-based North American Tungsten was granted creditor protection, the territorial government stepped up to buy Mactung for $4.5 million. When the N.W.T. cabinet approved the purchase, the rationale given at the time was all other offers to purchase the tungsten-rich property were too low. 

With mineral leases in both the N.W.T. and Yukon, Mactung is one of the largest-known tungsten deposits outside of China — the main player in the market.

But perhaps more importantly to the territorial government, by buying Mactung, it was able to get responsibility for Cantung off its books. The N.W.T. government transferred all liabilities for Cantung's cleanup to the federal government, based on the devolution agreement signed between the two governments in 2013.

Cantung, roughly 160 kilometres southeast of Mactung, produced tungsten off and on between 1962 and 2015. It has been in care and maintenance ever since.

Cantung mine to close Oct. 27, says North American Tungsten

The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs spent more than $37 million at Cantung between 2015 and March 2021. 

According to a recent court filing, cleanup costs at the former mine for the period between March 2021 and April 2022 will cost Canadian taxpayers more than $7 million. Right now, 12 full-time workers on four-week rotations do environmental monitoring and site remediation work at Cantung.
 

Meanwhile, the territorial government has spent more than $208,000 since 2015 to clean up Mactung and keep it in compliance with its water license. "There's no real ongoing costs with the property at the moment," said Ketchum.

What happens next?

Although the Canadian government has assumed responsibility for Cantung, the property is still technically owned by North American Tungsten, which is currently being run by Alvarez & Marsal, a court-appointed monitor.

In May 2019, the territorial government and the federal department tasked the Vancouver-based monitor to lead the sale of the two mineral properties. Any prospective buyer would assume ownership of the two properties, including all environmental liabilities and securities owed at Cantung.

 

 

But Ketchum said buyers do have the option to restart the Cantung mine.

"It's not simply just a remediation project in our minds. We think there is some value still remaining," he said, adding there is also the potential to reprocess Cantung's tailings to recover tungsten.

The request for proposals was supposed to go out in summer 2020, but was delayed due to COVID-19. The pandemic also held things up since some interested bidders couldn't get in for site visits.

The deadline for the request for proposals is not expected to close until early 2022, a spokesperson with Canada's Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Matthew Gutsch, told CBC News by email.

Once the bids are received, a committee comprising representatives from the federal and territorial governments and the monitor will pick a preferred bidder, he explained.

When (or if) a sale goes through, the Canadian and territorial governments have an agreement about how the proceeds will be split.

But details of that agreement — like so much of this process — are confidential, said Ketchum.

"The sale process is designed to maximize the cash value of the Mactung property and to offset to the greatest extent possible the environmental liabilities that exist at the Cantung mine site," Gutsch confirmed.
Any new owner will also be expected to negotiate a new Impact and Benefits Agreement (IBA) with the Nah?a Dehé Dene Band in Nahanni Butte. "Cantung operated for more than 50 years without any consideration of [the Nah?a Dehé]'s rights and interests," Soham Srimani, acting band manager, wrote in response to questions from CBC.

It wasn't until early 2015 that North American Tungsten signed an IBA with the First Nation, but this agreement was never fulfilled due to the company's bankruptcy protection filing soon after.

"[The Nah?a Dehé Dene Band] is actively working to ensure that any further operations or reclamation activity at Cantung Mine maximizes benefits to [its members] and minimizes further impacts on our traditional territory," explained Srimani, adding a new IBA is needed to document these obligations.

Tungsten in the spotlight

The request for proposals comes at a time when critical minerals, like tungsten, are in the global spotlight. 

Tungsten is a durable metal, with the highest melting point and tensile strength of any element. It is used to make cutting and wear-resistant equipment and tools that are important in heavy-duty industries like mining and construction.

In January 2020, the U.S. and Canada signed an agreement to secure access and improve supply chains for so-called critical minerals, many of which are controlled primarily by Chinese producers. Tungsten is one of the 35 critical minerals considered vital to clean energy, communications and military defence technologies.

According to a 2007 filing, Mactung is believed to host more than 290,000 tonnes of recoverable tungsten trioxide.

In 2009, North American Tungsten estimated it would cost $402 million to build Mactung and bring it into production.

Ketchum said the growing interest in critical minerals — and the two tungsten projects by extension — could be a "silver lining" of the complicated sales process.

"Because they are world-class resources," he said. "There's no question about that."

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/n-w-t-government-mactung-cantung-mine-1.6262590

NATC owned and operated a tungsten mine located in the Northwest Territories known as the “Cantung Mine”. NATC produced “tungsten concentrate”, which was sold to two customers, one of which was Global Tungsten and Powders 
Corp. (“GTP”). Low tungsten prices and significant debt service obligations were two of a number of factors that resulted in NATC’s seeking creditor protection.

Cantung Mine

The Cantung tungsten mine is located in the south-west corner of the Northwest Territories, approximately 720 km west of Yellowknife. The mine is located 390 km from Whitehorse, with year-round access via Watson Lake. North American Tungsten Corporation Ltd (NATC) is the owner of Cantung mine and is responsible for the site under the water licence issued by the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

The company, while legally responsible for the site, has been under creditor protection since June 2015. A Court-appointed Monitor, Alvarez & Marsal, oversees site operations, which are funded by the Government of Canada through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act court process. Under direction from the Court-appointed Monitor, NATC continues to undertake care and maintenance activities at the Cantung mine in order to meet its regulatory requirements. It is also advancing environmental site investigations to assess and determine potential closure options for existing environmental liabilities at the mine site. This work is being carried out in conjunction with federal officials and in consultation with Indigenous groups with asserted rights in the area.

In 2019, a Memorandum of Agreement for the joint sale and marketing process of the Cantung mine and Mactung deposit was signed by the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories. There are viable tungsten and copper reserves remaining at the Cantung mine, and as such it is possible that the Government of Canada could find a new operator to resume mining activities before the site is remediated and eventually closed.

https://www.canada.ca/en/crown-indigenous-relations-northern-affairs/news/2019/08/the-northern-abandoned-mine-reclamation-program.html

 

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#1545  Sticky Note https://cabinradio.ca/91194/news/environment/cantung-and-mactung-fail-to-sell-as Youngqueen 04/28/22 10:01:13 AM
#1564   we??? FosterK 04/28/22 09:44:06 PM
#1563   No, we DO KNOW. The law is the 1manband 04/28/22 09:40:40 PM
#1562   and this is the OTC so who knows???? FosterK 04/28/22 09:37:50 PM
#1561   It can't reverse merge, since it is in 1manband 04/28/22 09:35:47 PM
#1560   never? with reverse mergers etc.. I have seen FosterK 04/28/22 09:30:51 PM
#1559   Did you read the story? No one is 1manband 04/28/22 09:20:10 PM
#1558   hmm so now NATUF is que sera sera????I FosterK 04/28/22 09:02:17 PM
#1557   so what about the Tungsten etc. so it's FosterK 04/28/22 08:59:16 PM
#1556   Now it is a former mine. The Canadian 1manband 04/28/22 08:44:13 PM
#1555   "It no longer even qualifies as a mine."???? FosterK 04/28/22 08:31:17 PM
#1553   Uh, no. They don't qualify for a 211 1manband 04/28/22 06:41:06 PM
#1552   This just heating up. Natuf will be back StockRoomBully 04/28/22 06:37:09 PM
#1551   Is there any doubt that this is really 1manband 04/28/22 06:22:17 PM
#1550   hmmm "period of ~ 5 million years" so FosterK 04/28/22 10:41:04 AM
#1549   Interesting as to why it was really really FosterK 04/28/22 10:38:49 AM
#1545   https://cabinradio.ca/91194/news/environment/cantung-and-mactung-fail-to-sell-as Youngqueen 04/28/22 10:01:13 AM
#1544   New study done in April 2022 StockRoomBully 04/28/22 07:49:05 AM
#1543   3 employees update glassdor Febuary 18th 2022 Price/Change StockRoomBully 04/26/22 02:35:41 PM
#1542   Proof that company maybe coming back StockRoomBully 04/26/22 02:30:30 PM
#1540   "Stay period deadline April 30th 2022. Td price/change StockRoomBully 04/26/22 01:51:02 PM
#1539   Its not trading however we posted an image StockRoomBully 04/26/22 01:46:11 PM
#1538   What was deleted? I don't think NATUF is FosterK 04/26/22 01:27:25 PM
#1535   It's so cold there in the winter so FosterK 04/26/22 12:50:10 PM
#1534   "Northwest Territories & Nunavut: vast, mineral-rich and underexplored" StockRoomBully 04/26/22 10:23:05 AM
#1533   Prince Charles visiting Canada for Queen Jubilee why? StockRoomBully 04/26/22 10:08:14 AM
#1531   Hopefully, it's able to trade again etc. & FosterK 04/25/22 05:18:36 PM
#1530   $Natuf Merge takeover target 211 asap StockRoomBully 04/25/22 05:10:06 PM
#1529   Filling could get this rolling asap. Nwt news StockRoomBully 04/25/22 05:00:40 PM
#1528   Rare Earth Minerals ev deals in NwT finally yay StockRoomBully 04/25/22 04:58:39 PM
#1527   211 would get it back running again StockRoomBully 04/25/22 04:54:51 PM
#1526   could NOT is? FosterK 04/25/22 04:22:46 PM
#1525   This will never be "trading" again. 1manband 04/25/22 04:10:22 PM
#1524   except is this trading still or, would you FosterK 04/25/22 03:59:31 PM
#1523   Do you know if it's trading.. I don't FosterK 04/25/22 03:58:15 PM
#1522   Exactly is what I was alluding to and FosterK 04/25/22 03:57:25 PM
#1521   More NWT deals with UK get ready folks StockRoomBully 04/25/22 03:41:38 PM
#1520   Exactly, as this one is interesting especially with FosterK 04/15/22 01:33:28 PM
#1518   Have you read what you posted. It really 1manband 04/14/22 01:04:35 PM
#1517   Get ready folks lets see how this all StockRoomBully 04/14/22 11:52:14 AM
#1516   $Natuf may already have a bidder StockRoomBully 04/14/22 11:46:48 AM
#1515   Gnwt case $natuf pt2 StockRoomBully 04/14/22 11:42:30 AM
#1514   GNWT $NATUF case pt1 StockRoomBully 04/14/22 11:37:18 AM
#1513   Have you been reading on what the Canadian FosterK 04/13/22 02:51:08 PM
#1512   Before so many changes...it wont be long! FosterK 04/13/22 02:40:28 PM
#1511   The experts already say the stock is worthless. 1manband 04/13/22 02:37:09 PM
#1510   Well then, let's wait and see what all FosterK 04/13/22 02:30:05 PM
#1509   So what. Shareholders will get nothing. The government 1manband 04/13/22 02:26:23 PM
#1508   https://cabinradio.ca/88876/news/environment/progress-on-cantung-and-mactung-cou FosterK 04/13/22 02:15:36 PM
#1507   The proceeds will be split among the GOVERNMENTS, 1manband 04/13/22 11:52:44 AM
#1506   Great....it's getting interesting especially with all that's happening FosterK 04/13/22 03:51:52 AM
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