N.W.T. government paying for Mactung upkeep, a mineral exploration site it shares with Yukon

The N.W.T. government is paying $87,000 to clean up an exploration site that straddles the N.W.T/Yukon border. On Aug. 31, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources contracted the work out to KBL Environmental Services, to be done in the spring.

In light of this, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly is calling on the territorial government to draft laws that require exploration and mining companies to post financial securities with actual money to back them up.

Why does the territorial government own Mactung? The territorial government bought the Mactung exploration project in 2015 for $2.5 million dollars as a stipulation to hand over the now-abandoned Cantung tungsten mine to the federal government. This came after North American Tungsten –  the company that owns both these properties – filed for bankruptcy.

The government requires a company to pay a security deposit up front to guarantee taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill for environmental clean-up in case the company folds. In the case of North American Tungsten, the federal government – which was responsible for collecting securities for N.W.T. projects before devolution – accepted Mactung as collateral along with cash to acquire a water licence for Cantung.

Because nobody came forward to offer an adequate price for the Mactung property, the devolution deal requires the territorial government to hold onto it until somebody does.

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