While trying to paint Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon as unsuitable to lead the Yukon government's trade mission to China, Liberal economic critic Don Inverarity came up short. About $75 million short.
Citing the recent cancellation of China-backed financing worth $19 million to North American Tungsten's Cantung Mine, which the government touted last March, Inverarity foisted the blame on Kenyon.
"Will the Minister of Economic Development tell Yukoners what happened?" asked Inverarity. "Why did this $19-million investment go bust on his watch?"
Kenyon countered the territory has experienced "well over a 300 per cent increase in mining, development and exploration in this territory."
Kenyon went on to cite nearly $95 million worth of Chinese investment that would impact the territory's mining industry.
Last July, Jinduicheng Molybdenum Group and Northwest Nonferrous International jointly purchased Yukon Zinc's Wolverine Project for $87 million.
August saw Tagish Lake Gold Corp. accept $5 million in financing from Yukon-Shaanxi Mining Inc. and at the end of September, China Mining Resources Ltd. purchased nearly 19 million shares (today's value approx. $2 million) in Selwyn Resources Ltd. Selwyn's anchor zinc project is located near Howard's Pass in eastern Yukon.
"We have produced," said Kenyon. "We are going over there ... and bringing eight Yukon companies with us to showcase what they have to offer."
In 2001, mining investment in the territory bottomed out at $6 million but has since skyrocketed, surpassing the $100-million mark in 2007.
Kenyon departed for China today, accompanied by officials from his department and from the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. The delegation will attend the China Mining Congress and Expo in Beijing from Nov. 11 to 13.
As well, the minister will travel to China's Shaanxi Province to meet with the region's deputy governor and its Northwest Mining and Geological Exploration Bureau boss.
This is the third year the Yukon government has sent a delegation to the expo.
The officials will be involved in a number of information sessions and networking opportunities, including:
delivering numerous presentations on topics profiling opportunities, strategic advantages and regulatory regimes in Yukon;
hosting a "Yukon Night" reception; and
facilitating meetings between Yukon mining companies and potential Chinese investors.
"The Yukon government has established a relationship with the Chinese government based on its demand for minerals and our desire to market our resources," Kenyon said in a statement.
"Robust trade and investment between Canada and China will be fundamental elements of Canada's and Yukon's future prosperity."