Nunavut Inuit org set to sign deals with Baffinland for Mary River iron mine

QIA must approve Inuit impact and benefits agreement and commercial production lease


Okalik Eegeesiak, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, speaks this April at the Nunavut Mining Symposium in Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)

Okalik Eegeesiak, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, speaks this April at the Nunavut Mining Symposium in Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s board of directors, who represent Inuit from communities in Nunavut’s Baffin region, plan to hold a special meeting in Iqaluit this week to talk about some big issues, including an impact and benefit agreement and commercial production lease with Baffinland Iron Mines Corp, developer of the Mary River project.

“Our board usually meets twice a year however, under special circumstances, we have agreed to meet this month to decide on some pressing issues of priority,” said Okalik Eegeesiak, the QIA’s president, in a Sept. 3 news release.

At this meeting, the board will also appoint a new acting vice-president.

And the board members will receive briefings on the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement-in-Principle and commercial production lease for Baffinland Iron Mine Corp.’s Mary River iron mine project.

Their meeting is likely to be capped off by resolutions calling for the approval of the two agreements.

Article 26 of the NLCA requires that before a large development project, like Mary River, can proceed in Nunavut, an IIBA must be reached with a designated Inuit organization.

In 2009, QIA and Baffinland signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to some economic provisions that would later become part of a final IIBA.

This past April, Eegeesiak said the draft IIBA for the project ran to more than 200 pages.

For Mary River to operate as a mine, QIA and Baffinland must also finalize a commercial production lease.

This lease will touch on matters including rent, boundaries, water use fees, a quarry concession agreement, environmental conditions, authorities for QIA inspectors and auditors, required plans and reporting, and the amount and type of financial security.

Baffinland wants to build an iron mine at Mary River in northern Baffin Island that would produce 3.5 million tonnes of iron ore a year — a big step down from the much larger mine that the company planned to build until this past January when owners announced they would go ahead with a scaled-down project.

The “early revenue” phase of that scaled-down project would lead eventually to the construction of a larger, approved project to be completed within five years — by early 2019 — and, by 2020, 20 million tonnes of ore would start flowing from Mary River.

The QIA board meeting takes place from Sept. 4 to Sept. 5 at the Anglican Parish Hall in Iqaluit.

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