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The Yukon government says it’s focused on protecting the environment after taking control of the Minto Mine located on Selkirk First Nation territory.

Stephen Mead, the government’s assistant deputy minister of mineral resources and geoscience services, says the government was informed on Friday by Minto Metals Corp. MNTO-X that it intended to cease operations of the mine and remove its staff over the weekend.

Mead says the government hired JDS Mining to take over the site as a contractor, deploying the firm within 24 hours to secure critical employees and infrastructure.

He says the mine had around 180 staff and contract employees before the decision Friday by Minto, and that so far JDS has approached around 50 staff members with the intent to hire them to continue working on the site.

Mead says the government had already been monitoring the mine from an environmental perspective, and while it’s too soon to comment on the future of the mine, the current priority is on maintaining the pits that store contaminated water.

Whitehorse-based Minto said in a news release Saturday that it’s working with the government and that it has invested a significant amount of money into improving the water treatment plants at the mine.

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