Minto suspends Yukon copper mine, shares halted

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Trading in Minto Metals Corp. [MNTO-TSXV] shares was halted Monday after the company said it has ceased all operations at its Minto mine in Central Yukon. It said the Yukon Government has now assumed care and control at the mine site.

The announcement came after the close of trading on May 12, 2023, when Minto shares closed at 88 cents, after trading in a 52-week range of $2.40 and 88 cents.

The announcement sent shares of United Kingdom-based Pembridge Resources Plc [PERE-LSE], which owns an 11% stake in Minto Metals, into a tailspin. Pembridge said that it has been informed by Minto that it is unlikely to be in a position to repay the company approximately $2 million (the Minto receivable), $250,000 of which is payable in instalments during the remainder of 2023, unless Minto raises capital in the near term.

Pembridge went on to say that the investment in Minto and the Minto receivable represents over 90% of the company’s assets. “The Board of Directors of the company have started the process of assessing the ability of the company to continue as a going concern together with a review of all available options given the difficult financial position of the company following the recent announcement made by Minto,’’ Pembridge said in a press release.

Minto is the second producing hard rock mine in the Yukon next to Victoria Gold Corp’s [VGCX.TO] Eagle Gold Mine north of Mayo, which poured its first gold bar in September, 2019.

The Minto mine has been in operation since 2007, with underground mining starting in 2014. Since 2007 approximately 500 million pounds of copper has been produced from the Minto Mine.

“Needless to say ceasing operations at the Minto mine was an extremely difficult and disappointing decision, that was not taken lightly,’’ said Minto President and CEO Chris Stewart. “We are acting responsibly in co-ordination with the Yukon Government to avoid any damage to the environment,’’ he said. “We will update the market with future plans for Mino Metals as soon as possible.’’

News that the Minto mine is suspended comes after Minto metals said it had responded to a direction from the Yukon Government regarding the use of water at the Central Yukon operation.

In a statement last week, Minto said it has received the direction from the government on the grounds that water has been and is being used in contravention of the conditions of its water license, and directing the company to take action to protect the environment during this spring’s freshet.

Specifically, the company said it had been directed to immediately begin transferring water from the current water storage facilities to the Minto North pit, another on site pit, to ensure safe storage prior to treatment, if the total storage capacity in the tailings facility falls below 300,000 cubic metres.

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