Baffinland applies to continue shipping 6M tonnes of ore through Milne Inlet for 2 more years
Mining company says approval will avoid potential layoffs
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. wants to continue shipping six million tonnes of iron ore from Milne Inlet through 2024.
The plan is outlined in documents the company filed earlier this month with the Nunavut Impact Review Board. The application overview states approval will avoid the need to scale back operations at the mine, which could come with job cuts.
Baffinland has a licence that allows the company to ship 4.2 million tonnes of ore per year from its Mary River iron mine, located on northern Baffin Island. However, it has received temporary permits since 2018 to increase that limit to six million tonnes.
The increase was originally intended to carry the company through a public hearing of its proposal to build a major expansion of Mary River, called Phase 2, which if approved would have allowed Baffinland to ship 12 million tonnes of iron ore from Milne Inlet carried from the mine to port via railway.
Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal rejected Phase 2 last year, and Baffinland pivoted to a different plan to sustain its operations while working on an already-approved rail project south from the mine through Steensby Inlet.
Baffinland CEO Brian Penney announced in February the company plans to return to working on that project later this year.
Peter Akman, Baffinland’s head of communications, said in an email that a permit to ship six million tonnes through 2024 will help secure the mine’s long-term stability as it pursues the Steensby project.
“Our hope is that this request will be processed in a timeframe that allows uninterrupted work through 2023,” Akman said.
The submission to the impact review board is accompanied by several documents, which include comments from the mayors and hunters and trappers organizations from communities in the surrounding region.
The mayors of Pond Inlet, Igloolik, Arctic Bay and Sanirajak have all issued statements calling for a positive decision from the impact review board this summer.
Several HTOs have done the same.
Igloolik’s HTO said it would not support Baffinland’s proposal.
Vandal will have the final say in approving or rejecting the impact review board’s recommendation.
In a letter dated April 20, Vandal shared his support for the proposal as well.
“The responsible ministers are of the view that Baffinland’s proposed timeline is reasonable and that the integrity of the process envisioned under the Nunavut Agreement and the act would be maintained for an assessment scoped to the proposed changes and related commitments,” he wrote.