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I grew up in a mining town. When I was a kid, it was gold mining. Now it’s diamond mining. Anyway, back in the day, Yellowknife had two working gold mines, Giant and Con. Any local readers remember the Miner’s Mess and the Rec? Yep, Yellowknife had an element of rough-and-tumble to it.

I was too young to know that the mines would some day run out of gold and they’d close. And like all of us, I would never have dreamed that a strike would become so tense that a union member would plant a bomb in Giant Mine and kill nine scab labourers – one of the largest murder investigations in RCMP history.

And. And. And: It certainly didn’t occur to me that the (US) owner of the mines would OOPS! declare bankruptcy and stick Canadians with the approx HALF-BILLION-DOLLAR clean-up (arsenic) bill.

And that’s just for Giant Mine. There’s also Colomac Mine and Tundra Mine. Oh, and that’s just in the NWT! There’s also Pamour Mine in Ontario, Hope Brook Mine in Newfoundland and Kerness Mine in B.C.

The owner (formerly known as Peggy Witte, now Margaret Kent) of the now-bankrupt mine, I see, is now CEO and President of a new mining company, Century Mining Corp. Interestingly, it looks like Century is up to some shenanigans this year in Quebec. I hear she has a second home in Hawaii.

There’s worse, folks. Much, much worse.

She’s baaaccccck: in addition to Century Mine, she owns Tamerlane Mine and just guess who’s mining in the NWT – Pine Point. They’re re-opening a portion of the Pine Point Zinc deposit. (We’re in good company. Tamerlane is also doing business in Peru.)

Dear us: Who is this Peggy Witte/Margaret Kent that not only does she leave us with nearly a HALF BILLION DOLLAR BILL, but now she’s allowed to have at us again?

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. I recently got the opportunity to take a tour of Giant mine. Being relatively new to the North I was aware of some of the issues with the mine but am slowly being filled in on all the events that lead us where we are today. I was shocked to find how little had been done in previous years to keep everything under control.

    The people that run these types of operations are in it for one reason, money. Money will make you do crazy things sometimes and this is a great example of how the communities pay for it, literally and figuratively. There should be some kind of recourse to keep Peggy from returning to the north and continuing her reign of destruction to our beautiful land.


    Sep 23, 2009
  2. What cheerful news! (sic) Let us hope that our governments have learned from this history.
    .-= Lowell Ann Fuglsang´s last blog ..Free Stuff =-.


    Sep 23, 2009
  3. M

    She’s a going concern.

    Faro mine in the Yukon has a budget of 500 million to close and remediate the mine. I do not know what the cost of the Giant Mine remediation is, but it is widely considered the worst case in Canada and Faro is the 2nd worst, so the Giant Mine is likely to cost more.

    To be fair to Peggy, a lot of the current problems at Giant were present long before her time. Very poor and destructive mining practices were going on before she had her hands on it. I do not mean to be an apologist for Peggy, but to put the situation in a longer time context.

    Nevertheless, she personally did profit from her time at Giant in spite of the environmental legacy left behind.

    Sounds like you did some internet research to about the whole orphan mine issue. I wasn’t aware that the Parmour mine in Timmins was on the list too. The mine was still in operation last summer and they were actually expanding one open pit. So I am surprised to hear that it was considered an orphaned site.

    The federal government has taken steps to prevent being stuck with the bill of cleaning up these mining sites by making mining companies have some sort of fund created up front to pay for the closure and remediation of these sites when they have ceased operation. Of course, we now have all this environmental red tape that mining companies have to comply with before starting up a mine.

    At the risk of getting you terrorizing the oil and gas industry, there is also the issue of orphan oil wells. There are many orphaned oil wells throughout BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan that could potentially create an environmental legacy. These wells typically were owned by very small oil companies/exploration companies that went bankrupt for any number of reasons. In Alberta, they have a fund that all oil exploration companies pay into to pay for managing these orphan oil wells. I am pretty sure they would have a similar fund in BC and Saskatchewan as well. Alaska has a different way of making industry pay for these orphan wells, but they make sure it is industry, not the government who pays for the care of orphaned sites.


    Sep 23, 2009
  4. Fondlyremembering

    Peggy Witte and I crossed paths in 1980 while she was a manager at Ontario Research Foundation in Mississauga, Ontario. After bulldozing her way through many good people, she set up Witteck Development in 1981 and hired a few people to come and work for her in her new venture. She burnt through them quick, firing them as well as many new hires, until a culture based on fear was established. She grew her company, tried to play with the big boys, and the rest is history.
    I knew her well, know her business practices and ruthlessness.
    I am simply puzzled as to the choice of casting in the movie “Giant Mine”…I thought Cathy Bates would have portrayed her better.

    Steve Jobs would not have stood a chance with Peggy.


    Jan 02, 2012
  5. Jim Copley

    It really shocks a normal working taxpayer that all I have paid in tax over 45 years is blown in a couple seconds by a decision to compensate for a mining venture that should not have been allowed to go foreward at all; Windy Craggy of the Mike Harcourt era and a recent Uranium venture under the incompetent Coleman/Clark group. Payouts that were between five to ten times what an independent evaluation recommended.


    Nov 18, 2012

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