Baffinland to pay for Inuit-led program for monitoring impacts of proposed mine expansion, says QIA

Qikiqtani Inuit Association says Inuit stewardship plan offers a path forward

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association says many environment concerns remain about Baffinland’s proposed mine expansion, but a deal it’s struck with the company offers a way forward. (Photo courtesy of Baffinland)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association says some concerns over Baffinland’s mine expansion plans could be addressed by a deal it struck with the company that will give Inuit more say over environmental monitoring.

That’s according to Richard Paton, the association’s director of Inuit qaujimajatuqangit and engagement. He gave a presentation to the Nunavut Impact Review Board during a hearing on the expansion Thursday.

“We see this as ensuring greater Inuit control over project management,” he said.

The impact review board has been hosting meetings the past two weeks on whether to allow Baffinland to expand its Mary River iron mine on northern Baffin Island.

The company wants a 110-kilometre railway from the mine to Milne Inlet, an additional dock at Milne Inlet, more than double the amount of vessel carrier trips, and to expand current output from six million tonnes of iron per year to 12 million.

In his hour of presenting, Paton named a flurry of environmental issues associated with the proposed project that he says have yet to be resolved. Of them were ballast water discharge, potential invasive species, caribou crossings, the railway’s route, ice breaking and the health of Arctic char. Paton also said the association wants to see improvements to Inuit employment and training programs within the company.

Paton said Baffinland’s baseline research into animal and marine life populations is not good enough, that it needs to incorporate more Inuit traditional knowledge and that Baffinland’s final environmental report “underestimated” impacts on Inuit resources.

He said the company’s findings have “not corresponded with Inuit observations to date.”

“Inuit are the stewards of these lands and must be meaningfully and actively involved as full partners in environmental management for the life of the project,” Paton said. “The project must fit into Inuit lands and traditions.”

That’s where the Inuit Certainty Agreement comes in. The agreement, struck by the company and QIA in July, calls for an Inuit stewardship plan that would see Inuit hired with funds provided by Baffinland to monitor the mine’s environmental impacts.

As a result of this agreement, Baffinland has agreed to pay for such a program for 2021 to 2022, and for the life of the mine, should the expansion be approved, according to an email from the Inuit association.

Paton said the program will include committees composed of Inuit to monitor changes in the environment, as well as Inuit and community-based monitors to ensure the inclusion of Inuit traditional knowledge.

Those monitors will collect information, define and recognize problems, and determine responses to those problems. Some of these responses might include more monitoring, changes to Baffinland’s operations, or compensation, Paton said.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Darren on

    Mining, and mining companies, continues to prove itself as one of the best options available for us Inuit to leverage the only wealth we have(land) to pull ourselves out of poverty. However, there is an ever growing threat of external influencers pivoting Inuit concerns into environmentalist propaganda while not actually having to live with the over-crowding, poverty and despair that comes with lack of access to opportunity. Good job Hunters, more Inuk jobs is the right way to go. Continue to hold miners to ever increasing these as much as practical.

    • Posted by Doubtful on

      The Hamlet of Pond Inlet has determined that the average wage Baffinland pays to Mittimatalingmiut is only $44,590 a year. If you subtract rent of $11,000 a year, this is only about $3,000 more than a family of 4 would get on welfare. What kind of betterment is that? Who in their right mind is going to risk the environment and source of food being trashed for that!!

  2. Posted by Jason on

    Last ditch effort articles of qia trying to show tjat they are even an bbn option. As the north world rallies to separate away from them, they now work so hard.

    Mining is a good option for us is true, but done and managed by us. Not spoiled people from unaffected communities mismanaging our monies.

    As the new saying is, not one nail has been put to a building in north baffin, and if it wasnt for this new publicity, with qia running the contracts, we have never seen nothing.

    • Posted by Northerner on

      Managed by Inuit? Most of us have a difficult time getting up to work in the morning let alone managing a Mine. Our education and experience is decades behind.

  3. Posted by Volunteer on

    Inuit monitoring and Inuit Qaujimajangit should have been having the day the mine started. QIA has already said yes to expansion and phase 2. Trying to say Inuit will monitor is just crap. The 7 hunters went there because the environment is already ruined and to say “STOP phase 2.”How much more monitoring is needed? Nothing’s going to change. Baffinland will continue to damage the ocean and land while QIA staff and board are smiling satisfied on the sidelines. Loaded with money to build more hotels while beneficiaries live in over crowded houses and elders die in Ottawa.

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