Baffinland expansion needs to address Inuit concerns, says NDP candidate
Liberal and Conservative candidates in Nunavut mum on the issue
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s mine expansion should not go through as is, says the New Democratic Party’s candidate for Nunavut, while other candidates in the Sept. 20 federal election are staying quiet about the contentious proposal.
The Ontario-based mining company wants to build a 110-kilometre railway from its Mary River mine to Milne Inlet, double its iron ore shipments through the Tallurutiup Imanga marine conservation area and add another dock at its port.
The proposal is currently in front of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which will be hosting a public hearing in Iqaluit in November. The board will be making a recommendation to the federal minister of northern affairs, who has the final say.
Liberal candidate Pat Angnakak did not respond to Nunatsiaq’s request for comment on the subject.
Conservative candidate Laura MacKenzie said “as someone campaigning in public office, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on an ongoing quasi-judicial process.”
NDP candidate Lori Idlout is the lawyer for a group of protesters who blockaded the Mary River mine airstrip and tote road in February, called the Nuluujaat Land Guardians. She also served as the Ikajutit Hunters and Trappers Organization’s technical advisor during the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s public hearing into the company’s proposal.
She said as it stands, the expansion should not be approved.
Her words of advice to the next northern affairs minister would be to make sure that all of the people who would be affected by the proposal were properly consulted and that Inuit concerns are addressed.
Idlout said even without the expansion, there have been impacts on the land and Baffinland needs to work with Inuit more to address these existing issues, such as cleaning up dust produced by the mine’s operations.
“[Baffinland needs] to listen to the Inuit communities,” she said.