Mining company in Nunavut warns of ‘significant implications’ of not approving expansion


The owners of the Baffinland mining operation aren’t sure what this week’s federal decision means for the future of the mine, but its CEO has released an extensive statement describing what he fears could be lost – jobs and money.

“We are disappointed by the Minister’s decision,” said Baffinland CEO Brian Penney. “Given the four years of work and the material progress made since May, we are disappointed the Minister did not encourage all parties to promptly settle any outstanding issues and agree on a practical path forward for the project.”

On Wednesday, federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal and a number of other members of the Trudeau cabinet agreed with the Nunavut Impact Review Board and denied a request by the Baffinland Iron Ore Corporation to double production at their Mary River mine on North Baffin Island.

In the release, a Baffinland spokesperson listed a number of payments and projects that will not go forward as a result of the decision. They estimate over $4 billion in royalties, payments and projects will be lost.

Vandal has also released a statement, one that seems to point to a future for the mine.

“As noted, this process is best left to a new project assessment in which all potentially affected parties can participate,” Vandal said. “Such an assessment can avail itself of the significant work already done through the Phase 2 project certificate reconsideration.”


Read More: 

Ottawa says NO to expansion of Mary River mine in Nunavut 


The Mary River mine is located between Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay. The company was seeking permission to double its production to 12 million tonnes of iron ore annually.

Overall there are 2,500 total positions and 350 Inuit positions.

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed in communities most affected like Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay.

Many of the residents would have benefited from jobs in their communities. While others worried the mine was hurting wildlife – a point acknowledged by Vandal decision on Thursday.

“In support of the Board’s evidentiary findings, they expressed that there remains a consensus of the designated Inuit organizations and Hunters and Trappers Organizations that the significant adverse effects of Phase 2 cannot be adequately prevented, mitigated, or adaptively managed under the proposed mitigations, adaptive management, monitoring programs and/or with revisions to the Terms and Conditions,” wrote Vandal in his decision.

“The other responsible ministers and I are sensitive to the economic significance of both the ongoing Mary River Mine operations and the Phase 2 proposal to the North Baffin Region, and Nunavummiut more generally.

“However, we have taken particular note of the conclusions of the Board, the designated Inuit organizations and the Hunters and Trappers Organizations (given their specific roles outlined in the Nunavut Agreement), who have expressed a lack of confidence that Phase 2, as currently conceived, can proceed without unacceptable impacts.”

The Mary River Iron Ore mine rose to national attention in February of 2021, when residents from the two nearest communities blocked the mine’s runway to protest the proposed expansion. They stayed for a week.

 

Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.

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