Get ready for 11 days of hearings on the Mary River iron mine project

The Nunavut Impact Review Board distributes final agenda for July’s final hearings

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

W

ith less than a month before the start of the final hearings in the review of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River iron mine project, the Nunavut Impact Review Board wants to make sure the public meetings run smoothly.

To that end, on June 26 the NIRB sent out a detailed agenda to the various groups that will be presenting during the 11 days of sessions — in Iqaluit July 16 to 20, in Igloolik July 23 to 25, and in Pond Inlet July 26 to 28.

Elizabeth Copland, who is acting chairperson of the NIRB, will preside over the sessions scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cadet Hall in Iqaluit, the Ataguttaaluk High School in Igloolik and the Atakaalik Community Hall in Pond Inlet.

In attendance will be representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Nunavut Planning Commission, Government of Nunavut, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Canadian Transportation Agency, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Coast Guard, Natural Resources Canada, Parks Canada, Transport Canada, Makivik Corp., Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board and Zach Kunuk.

The NIRB has invited five representatives from each of the 11 “potentially affected” communities to participate in the community roundtable sessions at the Iqaluit hearings.

Members of the public can also attend the hearing sessions.

At the sessions, the main topics up for discussion include the Milne Inlet port, tote road and the Mary River mine site, the proposed 149-kilometre railway, Steensby Inlet port and shipping, terrestrial wildlife and migratory birds, shipping and the marine environment as well as the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the project, monitoring and mitigation.

While the five-day hearing in Iqaluit will allow all the presenters to speak from 20 to 80 minutes, depending on the topic, for the sessions in Igloolik and Pond Inlet, the NIRB has asked each speaker to prepare a more concise “summary presentation,” because the NIRB will have “already formally heard the information and the available time is more limited.”

Members of the public will also have specific times to provide the NIRB with their questions and concerns on the Mary River iron mine proposal.

The hearings mark one of the last steps in the permitting process for Baffinland, a private company under the control of ArcelorMittal, the European steel-making giant, and a private investment firm, Iron Ore Holdings LP, which wants to transport about 18 million tonnes or more of iron ore from Mary River to Steensby Inlet for markets in Europe and Asia over a period of least 37 years — and some predict up to 100 years.

After the hearings wrap up, the NIRB has until mid-September to produce its permitting report on the project, which could lead to the iron mine project moving ahead next year.

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