New Brunswick

Owner of Caribou Mine near Bathurst granted creditor protection

After suspending operations at its northern New Brunswick mine last week, Trevali Mining Corp. was granted creditor protection by the British Columbia Supreme Court on Friday. Trading of its shares has been halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange. 

Trevali Mining says there's no timeline for a potential restart of operations

The Caribou Mine, about 50 kilometres west of Bathurst, has suspended operations and been granted creditor protection. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

The news just keeps getting worse for the Caribou Mine near Bathurst. 

After suspending operations last week, Trevali Mining Corp. has been granted creditor protection by the British Columbia Supreme Court on Friday. 

On Monday, the company announced that trading of its shares had been halted on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Trading is also expected to be halted on three other exchanges as well. 

Trevali also said two members of its board of directors had resigned, and two officials from its Perkoa Mine in Burkina Faso were being detained by officials in that country pending trial on charges related to April flooding at the mine that resulted in the deaths of eight workers.

Charges relating to the Perkoa matter have been filed against the mine operator, Nantou Mining, a subsidiary 90 per cent owned by Trevali, the company said.

Creditor protection

Trevali Mining, including its New Brunswick subsidiaries, applied to the courts in British Columbia, where it has its headquarters, for creditor protection. They were granted an initial order for protection on Friday. 

On Aug. 16 — the eve of a deadline to pay a $7.5 million debt to one of its lenders — Trevali announced that it would suspend the extraction of all minerals at Caribou while it explored its options. 

The company blamed poor financial results partially on the Caribou Mine, citing "operational performance issues" and low productivity rates. It also says it suffered a loss of $15.2 million following flooding at its mine in Burkina Faso. 

The Caribou Mine is about 50 kilometres west of Bathurst and produces zinc, lead and silver. It employs over 200 people.

"After careful consideration of Trevali's cash position, scheduled debt payments, forecast revenue and expenses," and all available alternatives, the board of directors "determined that it is in the best interests of Trevali and all of its stakeholders to file an application for creditor protection under the [Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act]," according to a news release from the company. 

Some employees still on job

Ricus Grimbeek, president and CEO, described the decision as difficult but necessary.

"This was not an action taken lightly and we are aware of the uncertainty created and impacts this decision has on the community and on our team."

Trevali said Caribou "will be put on a care and maintenance program immediately to preserve the value of the mineral resource and mine assets and protect the environment in the mine's vicinity. While mining and milling activities have been wound down, those employees dedicated to environmental compliance and general maintenance activities at the mine site will continue."

Trevali said the corporation will still operate during the proceedings under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, using cash generated by its Rosh Pinah lead and zinc mine in Namibia on the southwest coast of Africa.   

The company said it has not determined any timeline for a potential restart of operations at Caribou.

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