Keeping It Up: GNWT to Save Headframe

In coming weeks the GNWT will announce a deal to save the iconic Robertson Headframe from impending demolition, according to a source close to the issue.

Confirmed details are still scarce as negotiations between the territorial government and Miramar Northern Mining Ltd, the subsidiary of Newmont Mining which owns the mine, are ongoing, the source tells EDGE. (As with several people asked to speak about this, our source cited confidentiality during the ongoing negotiations as a reason for requesting anonymity.) 

The territorial government, for its part, remains tight-lipped about the whole affair. However Andrew Livingstone, the GNWT’s Senior Cabinet Communications Advisor, did confirm that, “the GNWT has been talking to the company about the terms and conditions of their lease in regards to the headframe.” Miramar’s general manager Scott Stringer likewise declined to comment on the negotiations. Last week, however, he told EDGE that, “We’re still hoping we can find a way to keep it,” and that the company’s legal team was looking at options.

There are several hypothetical deals that could be struck — one where the GNWT takes over the 76-metre structure as a capital asset, another where it takes on liability for the structure, but hands it (or sells it) on to a third-party (the City? The NWT Mining Heritage Society? A private business?). Whatever happens, the GNWT is better positioned than the City to overcome some of the legal tripping blocks that seemed to have doomed the headframe previously. Newmont/Miramar is willing to transfer ownership, after all. But only to groups that can “fully indemnify [the company] of any financial or environmental liabilities that might be associated with [the headframe].” The City, cannot legally take on that much liability under the Cities, Towns and Villages Act; the GNWT likely can.

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There is still the chance that the negotiations could fall to pieces and we could be back to scanning our southern horizon for an explosive display (which, truth be told, might actually be pretty fun to watch). But all whispers from the corridors of power suggest we won’t have to bid adieu to Yellowknife’s most iconic landmark.


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