Cantung mine, Mactung property acquired by governments

The government of the Northwest Territories has purchased North American Tungsten's Mactung property on the Yukon/N.W.T.

The government of the Northwest Territories has purchased North American Tungsten’s Mactung property on the Yukon/N.W.T. border.

The agreement was reached after the company failed to find any suitable buyers for the property or for its existing Cantung tungsten mine.

North American Tungsten received creditor protection on June 9, after revealing it owed $79.5 million to 237 companies. It began to look for buyers in July.

According to a report published by North American Tungsten’s court-appointed monitor, three qualified bids were received by the end of September. But the monitor and two of the company’s major creditors, Callidus Capital Corporation and the government of the Northwest Territories, decided those bids were unacceptable.

In an email, N.W.T. cabinet spokesperson Andrew Livingstone confirmed that was because of the “low nature of the bids.” The report explained that the government would have “incurred a significant shortfall” on the amount it was owed if one of the offers had been accepted.

Instead, the government agreed to purchase the Mactung property for $4.5 million, a higher price than any of the bids had offered, according to the monitor’s report.

The report stated that $4.5 million is “vastly less” than the amount the government is owed, “estimates of which range from approximately $15 to $28 million.”

Currently, the government says it plans to keep the property until tungsten prices rise.

“The price is expected to rebound in the future and the GNWT will attempt to find a suitable company to invest and advance the Mactung project,” Livingstone wrote. The property is the world’s largest tungsten deposit outside China.

According to a government news release, the decision had to be made during the territory’s election campaign due to the “pace of proceedings in the B.C. Supreme Court.”

However, the Northwest Territories government has not taken over the Cantung mine, which ceased operations on Oct. 26. Instead, it transferred the abandoned mine to the federal government, which it’s allowed to do under the territory’s devolution agreement.

The Government of Canada will pay the care and maintenance costs of the mine through the end of March 2016. Those costs are expected to be at least $1.8 million. The territorial government will also transfer the security payments it received from the mining company for the reclamation of the mine site to the federal government.

Most of North American Tungsten’s remaining employees were laid off this week, though eight have been kept on to help with care and maintenance of the mine. The company’s directors and officers – Kurt Heikkila, Dennis Lindahl and Ronald Erickson – also resigned this week.

The Cantung mine is located 300 kilometres northeast of Watson Lake, near the Nahanni National Park Reserve and close to the Yukon border. The Mactung property is also on the border, about 160 kilometres northwest of the mine and just north of the Canol Road.

Contact Maura Forrest at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

Yukon NDP leader Kate White, surrounded by socially distanced candidates, announces her platform in Whitehorse on March 29. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Kate White and the Yukon NDP Platform

A detailed look at the NDP platform and Kate White’s leadership campaign this election

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Sandy Silver announces the territorial election in Whitehorse. Silver is seeking a second term as premier and third term as Klondike MLA. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Getting to know Sandy Silver and the Yukon Liberal platform

Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is vying for a second term as… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media in Whitehorse on October 30, 2020. Hanley is now encouraging Yukon to continue following health regulations, noting it could still be some time before changes to restrictions are made. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
No active COVID cases in Yukon

Hanley highlights concerns over variants, encourages vaccinations

Most Read