Nunavut review board invites input on Baffinland expansion proposal

Review board must decide if proposed changes warrant reconsideration of company’s project certificate


Milne Inlet, pictured here in August 2014, will grow considerably if Baffinland's proposal to expand shipping gets a go ahead. (FILE PHOTO)

Milne Inlet, pictured here in August 2014, will grow considerably if Baffinland’s proposal to expand shipping gets a go ahead. (FILE PHOTO)

The Nunavut Impact Review Board has launched a call for input on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposal to increase iron ore production and shipping at its Mary River mine.

That’s since the proposal landed at the review board’s doorstep last week, after a decision by federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development minister Bernard Valcourt to exempt the proposal from the North Baffin Regional Land Use Plan and send it to the NIRB for an environmental assessment.

Earlier this year, the Nunavut Planning Commission decided the mining company’s proposal did not conform to that plan.

But, against the advice of Inuit organizations, Valcourt argued that exempting the project from the land use plan is in line with the intent of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

At the same time, the minister directed the proposal to the NIRB, which now must determine if it warrants reconsideration of the terms and conditions listed in Baffinland’s existing project certificate.

In a July 22 letter to Baffinland and various stakeholders, the NIRB invites the public to comment on the mining company’s request, which will increase its iron ore production from 4.2 million metric tonnes per year to a maximum of 12 million metric tonnes.

That means an expansion of their shipping season from ice-free months only — roughly June to October — to a 10-month period stretching between June and March each year, including the November to March period when ice forms on Eclipse Sound.

To do that, Baffinland proposes 150 voyages a year, floating fuel storage, ice management vessels and a big increase in haul truck traffic along the tote road between Milne Inlet and Mary River.

The increased shipments from Milne Port would require, among other things, a second dock; a tank farm to accommodate up to 140 million litres of fuel and a camp and sewage treatment plant to accommodate a work force of up to 500 people.

Parties should submit their comments to the NIRB by email at in**@ni**.ca or by fax to (867) 983-2594 before Aug. 5.

Following a review of that input, the NIRB will decide if the proposed changes require reconsideration under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, and send its recommendation to the minister.

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