Baffinland decision to come out by Nov. 16: Minister

Vandal has one more week until he announces verdict on mining company’s expansion proposal

Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal speaks at a federal funding announcement in Iqaluit’s Unikkaarvik Visitor Centre Tuesday evening. (Photo by David Venn)

By Nunatsiaq News

Federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal says it will be one more week before he releases his decision on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s expansion proposal.

Vandal said he and other government officials have been reviewing the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s recommendation not to approve the mining company’s proposed expansion, as well as ensuring that Inuit were properly consulted throughout the process.

“By the 16th, I will have a decision,” he said in an interview Tuesday while he was in Iqaluit explaining the federal Liberal government’s fall economic statement.

As federal Northern Affairs minister, Vandal has the final say in approving or rejecting recommendations from NIRB, the board responsible for evaluating the social and economic impact of development proposals in Nunavut.

Baffinland wants to double its shipping output to 12 million tonnes per year from six million, construct a 110-kilometre railway between the Mary River mine and Milne Inlet, and build another dock at its port.

The project underwent a review process that lasted nearly four years, saw thousands of documents produced, and had four meetings since 2018.

In May, NIRB recommended Baffinland’s expansion plan not be approved, citing concerns over the possible impact on the environment. That gave Vandal 90 days to review the recommendation and approve or reject it. In July, he gave himself an additional 90-day extension.

“NIRB handed us a pretty significant document, so [government officials] thoroughly go through the document page by page, check out some of the details of the document [and] make sure it matches with some of the data that’s been provided,” Vandal said.

A Baffinland spokesperson said the company is looking forward to hearing Vandal’s decision.

“We are looking forward with anticipation to the minister’s decision,” said Baffinland spokesperson Peter Akman on Wednesday, adding the company is “fully committed to responsible development” while protecting the environment.

Baffinland is Nunavut’s largest private-sector employer with just over 2,600 workers, close to half of them direct employees. Company executives have said if the expansion isn’t approved, it may have to temporarily shut down the mine.

 

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(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by The current operation is enough already on

    There is only a few hundred Inuit working out of the 2600 and it was explained by the environmental board, the potential impacts for doubling the operation is too high. There is enough money to go around as it is and the company can expand their operations onto the other side of the island where the impacts can be better absorbed. Inuit matter as they will have to live with this decision.

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    • Posted by 867 on

      Any inuk that wants a high-paying job and a bright future has the option to go and work at the mine, even without an education. Barely anyone else in the world has such a lucrative opportunity.

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        • Posted by Well on

          You do need to show you have at least a few functioning brain cells before you get hired. Not sure you would qualify…

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  2. Posted by Beneficiary on

    If the Minister rejects the NIRB decision then that essentially means that the Nunavut Agreement stands for nothing.

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    • Posted by Contrair on

      In the contrary, it would mean that it stands for something.

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    • Posted by Taxpayer on

      Article 12 of the Nunavut Agreement expressly gives the responsible Minister (Vandal for now until Devolution, then a Nunavut Minister) the right to accept, vary or reject a NIRB recommendation. It does not say he/she/they must accept a NIRB recommendation. The Nunavut Agreement clearly allows for a number of choices to be made in this situation. Now, on the other hand, the Nunavut Agreement does not provide for a sitting Nunavut MP to petition a Minister to sway the decision one way or another, or for a Nunavut federal election candidate to weigh in on an active environmental assessment in front of the NIRB during an election. Both of those things have happened and are way, way out of scope of the Nunavut Agreement. If there is anything that needs shoring up, it may be to address this type of political interference.

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  3. Posted by Aputi on

    I worked there before good place to work better than agnico eagle, when I asked for training the next rotation I got it and when I worked for agnico eagle for two plus years and never got anywhere, while them French people got training and became full time employee with the company

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    • Posted by Eenok on

      Yeah right! BIM doesn’t even give drivers licenses. Did you get any recognizable ticket?

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    • Posted by Ned Flanders on

      There are Trade Schools all over Canada for Certification, Trade Papers and work experience. Sign up

  4. Posted by Billy miqusaaq on

    Baffinland is not at all listening to the impacts of the environment and the mammals impacts from eyes and the concerns from the Inuit that live there and near. No changes to this date to start listening to the Inuit. Money will not bring back the animals and the environment to its true state. Damages and already damaged ecosystem is happening right now. In my view and concerns…shut it down. No to phase 2 is a must!!

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  5. Posted by Truestory on

    Tired of all this B.S.. Just approve the proposal from B.I.M.. Get it over with and get on with life.

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  6. Posted by Double Standard on

    How come Minister Vandal gets to use the Library building, but it is closed to Nunavut residents?

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  7. Posted by NIRB Turd on

    This has got to be the most insane idea of a legal process in Canadian history. The minister will be judicially reviewed given the antics that unfolded at NIRB and it’s complete failure to follow basic legal processes. Support the mine or don’t, I think everyone can agree that NIRB was a complete sideshow.

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  8. Posted by Northern Guy on

    For a government that puts so much stock in reconciliation to go against the wishes of the QIA and NTI would look kind of silly. The Minister’s agreement with the NIRB recommendation is a done deal.

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  9. Posted by Aupti on

    More money for Nunavut government equals more houses we need, Nunavut need to stop being a beggar to the feds and start making our own money

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    • Posted by Ujarak on

      Aputiturasutuinnaruviqqai. What’s the royalty rate again? Divide by 4.

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      • Posted by Royalty on

        The royalty rate is the highest in Canada that has ever been negotiated between a mining company and Indigenous group…

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