Statement on Cantung Mine and Mactung property

YELLOWKNIFE (November 19, 2015) – The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has acquired the leasehold interests for both the Northwest Territories and Yukon mineral rights to North American Tungsten Company Limited’s (NATCL) Mactung property.

NATCL has been in creditor protection through the British Columbia Supreme Court under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act since June 9, 2015. Through a court-appointed Monitor, Alvarez and Marsal, North American Tungsten Corporation Limited put the Cantung Mine and Mactung property up for sale. Unfortunately, the bids received were unacceptable.

The Cantung Mine has been abandoned by North American Tungsten Corporation Limited through an orderly process under the CCAA proceedings. The Supreme Court of British Columbia has issued an order enhancing the powers of the Monitor, extending the CCAA proceedings and requiring the Government of Canada to fund the Monitor. 

The Government of Canada has also assumed responsibilities for the Cantung Mine under Chapter 6 of the Devolution Agreement.

The rationale for purchasing the leasehold interests for the Mactung property mineral rights is three-fold:

  1. To help to assure that Canada would take responsibility for the Cantung Mine;
  2. To protect and preserve GNWT security interests in the property; and
  3. To protect the economic potential of the Mactung resource for future sale. 

The GNWT's offer to purchase the Mactung property was set at a maximum of $4.5 million. The final cost to the GNWT is expected to be lower than $4.5 million, once the value of the CCAA related charges, which must be included in the purchase price, have been calculated by the Monitor.  The property has significant potential value as the world's largest tungsten deposit outside of China.

The decision to make the offer to purchase during the election period was required by the pace of proceedings in the BC Supreme Court and was beyond the GNWT’s ability to control. The GNWT was authorized to commit funding for the offer through a Special Warrant that will be reported to the 18th Legislative Assembly in a supplementary appropriation bill. Members of the 18th Legislative Assembly will be offered a briefing on the decision as soon as possible after it is convened.

Section 33(1) of the Financial Administration Act provides that the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories may issue a Special Warrant authorizing an expenditure, when the Legislative Assembly is not in session, if the Financial Management Board reports to the Commissioner that the expenditure is urgently required, the expenditure is in the public interest, and there is no appropriate or insufficient appropriation to incur the expenditure.

A backgrounder is attached which provides a timeline of the court process and decisions made by the GNWT.

Media Inquiries:
Andrew Livingstone
Senior Cabinet Communications Advisor
Department of Executive
Government of the Northwest Territories
Box 1320 Yellowknife NT X1A 2L9
Tel: (867) 767-9000 ext. 11091
Fax: (867) 873-0169
E-mail: andrew_livingstone@gov.nt.ca