Nunavut review board recommends against iron ore mine expansion on Baffin Island

CAMBRIDGE BAY, Nunavut –

The Nunavut Impact Review Board recommends that the proposed expansion of an iron ore mine at the northern tip of Baffin Island should not be carried out.

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. is trying to expand its Mary River iron ore mine near Pond Inlet by doubling its annual production from six to 12 million tonnes.

The mine, which is considered one of the world’s richest iron deposits, opened in 2015 and transports approximately six million tonnes of ore per year.

The mine says that the expansion would more than double the employment at the mine to more than 1,000.

The Review Board said in a release on Friday that there is potential for the proposal to have significant and lasting negative effects on marine mammals, the marine environment, fish, caribou and other wildlife, vegetation and freshwater.

The board said that these negative effects could also affect the Inuit harvest, culture, land use and food security.

“The Board has concluded that the proposed assessment cannot be implemented in a way that will protect the ecosystem integrity of the Nunavut settlement area and that will protect and promote the existing and future well-being of the residents and communities of the Nunavut settlement. Area, and Canada more generally “, said the board.

“As a result, the Board has recommended to the Minister that the Phase 2 development proposal as it has been assessed should not be allowed to continue at this time.”

Federal Northern Secretary Dan Vandal thanked the board for its work and said the government will review the report and its recommendation.

“I will take the time to review the report with federal officials,” Vandal said on Twitter. “A decision will be made after appropriate due diligence and comprehensive analysis, including whether or not the consultation obligation has been fulfilled.”

The mine proposal has met with opposition, including from hunters and hunters in the community closest to the mine.

Inuit hunters said they feared an expansion of the mine could accelerate the ongoing decline of a narwhal population they rely on to get food.

In a letter sent to the board last week, the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization said the mine was already harming their ability to harvest the important food source.


This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 13, 2022.


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