Up Here Business published a great story on the tiny Cantung mine in NWT. It’s one on the most important Tungsten producers in the world.
The Cantung mine is located on the NWT border, north of Watson Lake Yukon. It opened in 1962 but shut down almost immediately in 1963, when tungsten prices fell. The mill burned down in 1966, prompting Cantung’s second closure. There was an uninterrupted 12-year production stretch from 1974 to 1986, with the property laying dormant until 2001. Two more shutdowns followed in the ensuing decade. The mine is owned by North American Tungsten (ticker NTC on TSX).
North American has worked on expanding Cantung’s official operating reserves, while continuing to develop its other tungsten property, Mactung, located a few hundred kilometres further north of the border. Mactung is moving swiftly through the Yukon regulatory process. A $400-million development, with the potential to employ up to 300 people, Mactung boasts the largest highgrade tungsten deposit in the world. And with a projected lifespan of 30 years, it offers considerable more certainty than its sister tungsten mine to the south.
None of Cantung’s workers come from the NWT. NTC and the Kaska First Nation are discussing the MacTung mine development, yet it is unclear when or if a benefits agreement will be achieved.
North American Tungsten Corporation Ltd. is the Western World’s largest producer of tungsten concentrate (~4%), a strategic industrial metal required in a wide variety of products ranging from jet turbine engines and high-speed cutting tools to electronic circuitry and surgical instruments. NTC trades at $0.13 with a market cap of $30 M.
Cantung plugs away and tungsten prices have held their own recently. MacTung received a major boost from the Executive Committee of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board last Fall when the Board delivered a Draft Screening Report, moving it closer to the finalization of the environmental assessment.
It is interesting that such a small company plugs along successfully with a rather large project. It would be preferable if NTC could work out an amicable benefits agreement with the Kaska.