The firm that's managing the sale of the abandoned Minto Mine in the Yukon wants more money to finish the job as dozens of potential buyers have expressed interest.
That's according to court documents recently filed this month by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC).
The Yukon Supreme Court appointed the firm to manage the mine's affairs, including selling the property, after the now-defunct Minto Metals Corp. abandoned the site in May. The receiver had initially borrowed half a million dollars to manage the property, which is located on Selkirk First Nation's land, approximately 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse.
The receiver's first report to the Yukon court reveals that it needs more money to carry out the sale.
PwC is asking the court to sign off on an additional $500,000 from Maynbridge Capital, a company that provides loans, to fund Minto's receivership.
"Without an increase in the Receiver's Borrowings Charge, the Receiver will be unable to carry out its duties under the Receivership Order," the report reads.
The report states the borrowed money will be repaid once the mine is sold or through the liquidation of assets.
Yukon Department of Energy, Mines and Resources spokesperson John Thompson wrote in an email to CBC News that the receiver's request to borrow more money doesn't affect the Yukon government, which took control of the mine site after Minto Metals Corp. pulled out.
"The Yukon government is not providing money to PwC," Thompson said. "The receiver will be paid with funds from the proceeds of the mine sale."
Meanwhile, the government continues to pay for water treatment and other environmental protection activities at the site. Thompson says the government has spent $13.3 million to date on contracts at Minto Mine since the site was abandoned.
PwC's reasons for wanting more money vary.
The reports speaks of the remote location of the mine, the complexity of its licensing as well as the need to consider the interests of different stakeholders like the Yukon government and the Selkirk First Nation.
The process of selling Minto Mine was never going to be an easy one, according to Yukon Conservation Society mining analyst Lewis Rifkind.
"We tend to think of these operations as either being profitable or not," Rifkind said.
"But ... the way mining companies think, some of them, the better ones, will be thinking long term ... They'll also be looking at the environmental liability and going, 'Yeah, we've had experience in doing this, we think we can do it.' But some companies might take one look at it and go 'It's going to be a financial sinkhole,'" Rifkind said.
"So it's sometimes a bit difficult to understand why corporations buy these properties or not."
Equipment sits in the underground portion of the Minto mine during site tour in July. (Government of Yukon)
Potential buyers could initially place bids for either the entire Minto property or pieces of it until Oct. 6. The deadline, however, was extended to Nov. 1.
The firm had also hoped to select a successful bid before Dec. 31 and to have it approved by a judge within 60 days, anticipated to be Jan. 26, 2024. The report states the sale will now continue with hopes of closing a deal by the end of March 31, 2024.
"The Receiver acknowledges that the timeline [of the sale] were compressed; however, in light of the significant ongoing costs of maintaining the Minto Mine, and the need to capitalize on the current interest in the Minto Mine, the Receiver is of the view that a compressed process was appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances," the report reads.
According to the report, out of 51 potential buyers, only eight signed non-disclosure agreements to receive access to exclusive information about the mine's design, finances and operations.
Thompson says PwC has been consulting both the Selkirk First Nation and the Yukon government throughout the sale process.
"We are providing feedback with the aim of finding a suitable buyer," Thompson said.
But which corporations are interested and what the final transaction might look like remain unknown.
"Are these companies interested in buying the entire site, maybe some of them are just interested in some of the equipment that's still on the site," Rifkind said.
"There's a lot of unknowns."