Baffinland warns of layoffs in ‘emergency’ request over shipping limits
Company pressures federal government to allow it to continue shipping 6 million tonnes per year from Mary River mine
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. will lay off more than 1,700 workers — close to two-thirds of its workforce — if the federal government does not allow the company to ship more iron ore this year, says CEO Brian Penney.
He laid out that position in what he called an “emergency request” to the federal government to increase the amount of iron ore it ships from its Mary River mine this year.
Baffinland needs to ship six million tonnes of iron ore in 2022, otherwise it will result in layoffs for more than 1,300 employees and 400 contractors, Penney wrote in a letter to federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal Thursday.
The company employs just over 2,600 workers, nearly half of them as direct employees.
“This request is based on the significant negative impact on mental health that will occur both directly to workers and their families and communities that receive termination notices if they are sent next week,” Penney wrote.
“Additionally, there is a recognized positive correlation between wage employment and food security.”
Baffinland has been trucking six million tonnes of iron ore from the Mary River mine and shipping it out of Milne Inlet each year since 2018.
However, its permit to do that expired at the end of December, meaning the company’s limit for this year is currently 4.2 million tonnes, spokesperson Peter Akman wrote in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
Baffinland — the territory’s largest private sector employer, which says it accounted for 23 per cent of Nunavut’s economic activity in 2019 — is already preparing a notice to the Nunavut Labour Standards Compliance Office.
It is warning it will lay off employees if Vandal does not comply with its request for more shipping, according to a press release from Akman.
At least 209 Inuit will be among those laid off, Akman wrote.
“We request that the Minister use this legal authority … which would … avoid the significant negative impacts on the health of the workers at Mary River that will be directly and indirectly impacted by the layoffs,” Penney wrote in the letter.
Penney is also waiting on a verdict from Vandal on Baffinland’s proposed Phase 2 expansion of the Mary River mine. A decision is expected at some point this summer. Earlier this month, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended Vandal not approve the expansion, but the northern affairs minister has the final word.
The company wants to build a 110-kilometre railway, an additional dock, and double its shipping amount from six million to 12 million tonnes per year.
Baffinland’s permit to ship six million tonnes was supposed to last until a decision on that expansion had been made, said Akman. But due to delays in the review process, the permit expired first, he said.
Vandal’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trust Baffinland to make threats. No doubt it will be the Inuit workforce laid off.
Someone should buy them out, because they want out.
The QIA knew in 2020 that it wasn’t feasible even at 6 million tonnes per year. They had Price Waterhouse do an analysis and this is the conclusion still on the QIA website… “QIA employed PriceWaterhouseCoopers to investigate Baffinland’s claim of financial hardship, the independent investigation showed that the mining company’s claim was accurate.”
You have to scroll down a little into the web page to see it but it is there. The decision should come as no surprise.
Good Bye Baffinland.
We will Miss You.
We Will Remember You When Our Stomach and Baby crying for food and milk and no more money for booze,drugs and new snowmobile
I’m crying ALLREADY just thinking of loosing you cause we where bad to you
Price Waterhouse Coopers is a huge transnational company that makes its $$$ working for large international and national corporations. QIA, and organizations like it, are not where it typically makes its $$. Simply put, you ‘don’t bite the hands that feed you”. It’s a corporation that has been sued and found guilty of misrepresenting clients on more than a few occasions. Others working with Inuit produced credible, entirely independent reports and research that makes it clear that Baffinland is quite profitable and doesn’t need sn expansion to make $$$. Mr. Penny’s threats and claims are very common and ‘to be expected’ theater (yawn). Bigger is always better (for corporate interests). Not usually for the environment and workers, who get replaced by machines as things get bigger (read railroad).
Wow!! Such conspiracy theories are amazing. Your conclusion is that big business is all in bed together and colludes to rip off Inuit. I guess when you don’t like the answer, you take the Trump approach of spreading doubt and misinformation. Really focusing on harnessing the “victim” mentality and making use of it. Disgusting.
You are also questioning the QIA’s choice to hire PriceWaterhouse to do this work and instead suggesting that they should have hired firms that will support your objectives. When faced with the reality that Baffinland isn’t making money and is now laying people off (meaning your other financial experts were wrong), you suggest that Baffinland is just faking.
You really don’t care about truth. Do you?
Baffinland had four years to prepare for other options, plan b so to speak, other options are always available when you don’t get what you want, I have a feeling the President of Baffinland will be terminated down the road for his poor handling of this.
Aaahhhhh nice to see all our politicians cower and run from this.
Close the mine,fire them all and never look back,its not economicly profitable,that will show them and teach a lesson.
Theres a saying that goes like this…
Don’t byte the hand of the one that feed you.
Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Hope you learn something today from me, peace
BIM employes “slightly more than 2600 employees”. How many of them are Inuit?
We presume it’s at least 206, because that’s how many Inuit we are told will be layed off if the shipment of more ore is not approved.
According to the GN’s Labour Force StatsUpdate for April, 2022, there were 10,400 Inuit employed in Nunavut. See https://www.gov.nu.ca/sites/default/files/labour_force_statsupdate_april_2022.pdf
206 jobs is a lot of jobs. It is almost 2% of the 10,400 jobs held by Inuit in Nunavut.
2% is very far from the claimed 23% of Nunavut economic activity. BIM is probably talking about the money BIM gets from selling the ore. But that really has no impact on Nunavut. BIM’s real impact on Nunavut is 2%.
I was reading today that construction contractors want $1.1 million dollars to build a house in Nunavut. Perhaps those 206 Inuit could earn more money by getting jobs in house construction in Nunavut if BIM lays them off.
This whole thing sounds a little like blackmail.
Last time I checked, more than 12,000 people were employed in Nunavut. So, more than 11,
Exactly,we should be around workers showing we can work without constantly winning about this and that and be more appreciated by our boss and help our familly and country by working hard and stop complaining about expansion,we are need it to help our own country,are we just gonna sit there and do nothing but complaint while they need our help and improvement ?
They say it’s a high quality Ore and four million tonnes of it isn’t enough to make profit? Aren’t there suppose to be yours and friends in businesses, this company is trying to stay up, doesn’t want to go to down slope. Economic 101
JUST LEAVE! They do nothing for us but damage our land and kill our herds. Pray to Jesus that they will be forgiven because I won’t. Get off my land!
Sedna seems more real. As Inuit became Bible Thumpers the finger food has started to dry up. Interesting.
Is anyone else tired of the primary educated individuals that rant they are “owners” of the land and if they don’t like what you are or who you are then get out. Inuit are stewards of the land and under the NLCA, Inuit have certain rights to protect their way of life and the land on which we all reside. This stewardship obligation must interact with the varied needs of modern peoples, and with the reality of resource development. Sustaining the environment does not mean all oppose development. Nunavut should seek to be partners in development, while ensuring that methods and projects undertaken respect their connection and obligation to the air, land, and water.
Please grow up and realize that you are not the only ones at the table.
Making threats to get what they want
I do not live in Nunavut anymore, buy my family is greatly effected by this, either way it goes. But as an outsider considering all things that would most benefit the people there, this is what I see…
Out of 1700 employees who may be laid off, 50 +/- of them are from the effected communities. This is not a fair tradeoff ( benefit vs damage).
BIM should leave. Inuit orgs should buy them out. And instead of having a mine with a one generation lifespan, employing minimum Inuit, it could employ hundreds of Inuit on a smaller scale for generations. The ore is the best quality, no processing needed. Why such a hurry for them to take it out of the ground in massive quantities? Answer:$$$$
Get them out of the territory, run it with your own people. the resources and employment opportunities are in your back yard. The money is there to be made and benefit the people there who want to work, and at your own pace. Time to take it back!
In my life and travel experiences, there is nothing more depressing then the feeling of a dead end. Waking up in the morning and not having a plan, or an opportunity. Or being faced to leave your home because you cant make a living or find a place of your own to rent. If this acquisition worked out, then it would be at the peoples pace, animals monitored and protected by the people that know them. No more dozens of ore ships running and waiting in the harbors scaring away all the animals (food). I think Inuit are looking at an immense opportunity that could serve them healthy, independent, and well for generations to come! 🙂
Idiotic non sense as expected
Yeah, really sucks reading what you don’t want to hear, huh? Totally ridiculous for a people to want to work and protect the land they know and live from. Total idiots we are (big sarcastic tone).
Protect our soil our air our water mosquitos and return in our tent and igloo we dont need anything, lol
The comment is so riddled with delusion (“kick the mine out and run it yourself!”) it is hard to read, I’ll give you that.
your view sounds plausible. however step one, Inuit must acquire high education to be able to run these mines on their own. Being a manager/director with a grade 12 education might pass for a GN position but probably not for skilled labour.
why do you think we only have grade 12?
A typically simplistic piece of drivel Are you aware of the capitalized value of Baffinland at the moment? The $4.1Billion value of the company is orders of magnitude above what the QIA and NTI could ever pay for it. But even on the absurdly and statistically impossible chance that they found someone stupid enough to bankroll them and they were able to raise the capital to buy the company, who would they get to run it? No one within their respective organizations has the slightest clue as to how to run a billion dollar mining venture! Stop talking nonsense you’re just embarrassing yourself!
Iron ore prices are expected to average $110 US per tonne in 2022. This is down from a high of $180 US per tonne in 2021. Ore is expected to drop further over the next five years to $80 US per tonne in 2023 ending up at $55 US per tonne in 2027.
It doesn’t matter who owns Mary River, if the mine can’t pay it’s fixed costs due to falling world market prices, it will have to shut down.
Hence the original request for a production increase that was quashed by the NIRB.
One inuk can’t help but wonder, did all my people get brainwash and told what to do by GreenPeace ? Or are we just Pain Stupid and ignorant still believing in old grandma a ya ya song ?
Stupid is,stupid does. I am so ashame to be Inuit cause of ignorant some of my own people is. Smart up already,
were not green peace eskimos
It’s not “Blackmail”, it’s a fact. No ore, no jobs. Stop having a one track mind. Most of the posters here against the expansion must have a nice job. My fellow Inuit workers love working at the mine as it keeps us from collecting “Income Support”. If I could sue N.I.R.B., and the councilors from Pond Inlet I surely would. High School grads would have a future in the mining industry if it was approved. Mines all over the world needs trades people. Bunch of idiocy runs amok in Pond Inlet.
It most definitely IS blackmail. Baffinland could have prevented this from occurring by submitting a proposal to extend the production increase: they didn’t take it. It’s a proponent driven process. This is their own fault.
It’s absolutely shameful that they’re now using their employees as leverage.
Baffinland is the mine who cried bankrupt!
The incompetent management at BIM put these employees jobs at risk. They had all the opportunities in the world to submit a proposal to extend the 6 mtpa production limit before this happened. It was pretty obvious to anyone involved in the hearings that the NIRB would recommend Phase 2 not proceed and on top of that, BIM knew that their extension would likely expire before the Responsible Ministers made a decision.
This is their own fault. The entire fiasco is their own fault and they want to blame the system. They didn’t consult properly, their monitoring sucks, and their proposal was deficient. 🤷🏻♂️ That’s not NIRB’s fault.
Grow up and adhere to the regulatory process instead of using your employees as leverage to subvert the process to get your way. Otherwise, get the f*ck out of Nunavut and let Inuit run the mine.
This is ridiculous.
It’s basic economics, because a few family groups apposition of phase 2 this mine will not be making enough money for their shareholders, with that they will be in favour of shutting it down.
Lots of people will be losing jobs here, even those families wanting more lucrative contracts will be losing out.
Wait in see, in a couple years you will be begging them to come back and open the mine.
This is hardly a threat or blackmail as other’s have accused. The company indicated all throughout the Phase 2 process that they would struggle to survive at 6 million tonnes per year, let alone 4.2 million tonnes per year.
For those that followed the NIRB hearings, the company stated that it would not be viable at these production levels. They were denied the ability to increase production levels to the North. As the company fights to stay alive, they need help. People are accusing the company of blackmail or threats. Seriously… give your head a shake. If you can’t make money, how can you pay employees. It is not a threat or blackmail… it is harsh reality.
As for someone else buying them. Is there someone else lining up to lose money?
As for killing caribou or narwhal, that is done much more frequently by hunters then a mining company.
It may be harsh reality, but Baffinland should close in its entirety. That may be harsh, but that’s reality. If they can’t survive economically with either 4.2 or 6 million output, why try to stay open for business? It’ll just end up a continuous cycle of trying to stay afloat.
Baffinland duped investors in believing that regulatory approvals would be made, which enabled them to purchase equipment prematurely, and now they’re in debt. This was really poor project planning from the start. If they had done it right without rushing, they would have taken more time to mitigate effects. Baffinland was a major contributor to habitat loss, noise pollution and negative environmental effects, but if they had been more diligent to mitigate them, they would not be in a position where they are today.
Here’s the real harsh reality – most of us southern workers can find another camp job if we want it within 8 weeks fairly easily. If we want to take a paycut, we can find decent paying work at home, tomorrow. Many of us who work these type of jobs have made good money for years. We’ll be fine. Life will go on.
For many of our Inuit coworkers, they will not be able to make this type of wage locally. And almost certainly not as easily. They’ll go back to their communities without a plan and have to rub shoulders with the people so adamant to take away their job and way of living. They’ll have to look these people in the eye. That’s tough.
To frame this as a “victory” against southerners or white oppression or whatever is ridiculous. Business is just business. If Baffinland doesn’t get the permits, not economically viable – then fine. Mine closes and we keep it moving, life goes on. But make no mistake, the people who are going to be hurt the most are the local Inuit who will lose their jobs, and for them I am most sympathetic.
This is unfortunately the end result of Baffinland’s poor planning. Although loss of jobs to Inuit are very real, loss of wildlife that Inuit rely on by the thousands, and for generations to come are also very real. The wildlife (caribou, char, seals, narwhal, walrus and other species) in the north Baffin region may never be able to recover if the mine continues or is granted production increases. This livelihood has always been our primary source of economic viability. I don’t think we want other Inuit to suffer from loss of jobs, but at the same time, employment can be available in other exploration and mining opportunities, the private sector and the government sector. Employment opportunities can be created, but trying to revive animal populations from near extinction is very very difficult. And I don’t think harvesters want other Inuit to lose jobs either. That’s not the point. If Baffinland had worked with Inuit to truly mitigate effects (e.g alternate shipping or railway routes away from molting grounds and calving grounds), it would be a different story. Baffinland only began trying to incorporate IQ after the fact, when decisions were already being made by them without Inuit input (the railway route report by Baffinland does not reference consulting with Inuit at all). I would say the mine is trying to create divisiveness between Inuit by trying to pit Inuit against other Inuit.
Harsh Reality said “if they had done it right without rushing”. Wow!! Phase 2 was submitted to NIRB in 2014 and it is now 2022. That is 8 years. If that is rushing then I understand why the Fraser Institute’s annual mining survey indicated “71 percent of respondents
for Nunavut and 67 percent for the Yukon claimed the level of transparency in the permitting process
was a key deterrent for investment.”
Baffinland sought production increase right after the first approval and it was a continual request for approvals after each NPC/NIRB process. Not only were the requests to increase rushed, the whole operations was rushed, resulting in poor project management. There were workplace accidents and a push for a collective bargaining unit to protect employees from exhausting long hours, substandard or incomplete environmental review reports, delayed dust control measures, poor investment and financial planning. Junior companies really need support and guidance in better project management, which the primary investor tried to do. But governments should also have a role in providing that guidance with industry standards and funding incentives.
You’re making some good points, Harsh Reality. Companies should ideally be economically and otherwise sustainable.
Investors took a risk putting money into Baffinland, certainly, and Baffinland in its turn may well have been overly optimistic that regulators would work with them. But why should we give a pass to the lazy regulatory bodies that simply haven’t responded to the export permit renewal since December? If they’d responded no, BL could have reduced their output and costs early, but by delaying the response, they’ve put BL in the worst possible financial position, knowing full well they would have to stockpile the full 6m tons at the inlet. Shouldn’t the regulators be held accountable for effectively destroying a business that everyone needs, and benefiting no one in the process?
Projects like Mary River need big investors to get off the ground. If the regulators just sit back and destroy their investments, how is anyone in Nunavut going to raise capital in the future?
After causing all this damage, how many of the regulators are going to get laid off? Answer: None.
Inuit didn’t “need” anything when colonizers came here!!! Where do you getting off telling Inuit what they need and don’t need. That’s what has cost governments billions.
Now that we’ve come this far it is still Inuit land whether you like it or not. Inuit must develop at the rate of Inuit not transient peoples!!!
Southerners have taken centuries to get where they are in their education, please allow Inuit to receive the same education and develop THEIR land the way they see fit; just the same as land down south is being developed the way they want.
What percentage of the wages are going outside and how much is staying in the north? Minerals are being extracted from the north and very little of it is benefitting the people who live here. The majority of the monies earned is going south very little of it staying in the north where it is being extracted from.
What do you think is so magical about School that us “colonialist” have? Do you think we’re born with 1,000 years of schooling in our brains? Then why do we have to do 12 years of schooling plus University?
> please allow Inuit to receive the same education
We do. As much as people say Inuit kids have a grade 8 education at grade 12, your grade 12 grads do have to pass a Canadian grade 12 exam, meaning they have grade 12 knowledge.
> What percentage of the wages are going outside and how much is staying in the north?
Well, there was an upfront payment of $30-45 million if Phase 2 was accepted, which according to other commenters would have been 2/3rds of the value of the current 4.2 million tons. With another 2.4 BILLION dollars going to the Inuit Orgs over the lifetime of the mine.
So, in short, an effing lot!
So we just fumble along and get things wrong until we stumble on the right way? When there are people all over the world we can learn from?
You don’t speak for me.
“But why should we give a pass to the lazy regulatory bodies that simply haven’t responded to the export permit renewal since December?”
Its Baffinland that was lazy and didn’t apply for a renewal. When your driver’s license expires, is it the fault of the lazy people at the licensing office? Or is it your responsibility to go and get a new one?
Since colonization began Inuit have always been the underdogs. They don’t have the knowledge, education that their southern counterparts have. Less than a century later Inuit are finally developing into meaningful employees with the limited education they continue to have. Many Inuit realize this and only now are enjoying some of the benefits of employment though at the lower end of the spectrum.
Once those minerals are gone that’s it, no more; Inuit will be back to what they started with: Income support, wildlife. With the rush that major corporations are going in Nunavut the minerals will be mined out in less than a century. A good example is the Agnico Eagle’s Gold mine north of Baker Lake. They are making plans now to close the mine and those who are employed there will be out of work as the company set the pace to extract as much of the gold as possible in the shortest period of time that they are able. They have disrupted caribou routes that the Inuit depended on to the point where Inuit have been able to harvest more caribou with ease and substantially reducing the herds. The jobs will be gone, the caribou herds reduced to the point where quotas are required and prices of food at the stores continue to rise.
With more education Inuit should be able to come up with ways to have sustainable jobs by creating companies that employ Inuit. There is a lot of land in Nunavut there must be a better way to make use of that land and create sustainable employment for Inuit.
Curious to know how this new economic utopia for Nunavut will be created absent a dramatic increase in the number of bags of cash extracted from increasingly grumpy southern Canadian taxpayers. In light of rampant inflation, unaffordable housing prices and increasing political radicalization, I predict that Canadians will start looking more critically about the value of supporting a jurisdiction like Nunavut that appears remarkably stubborn in its defiance of reasonable economic development. Many in Nunavut appear strongly in favour of permanent government dependency and bravely upholding environmental principles while living on someone else’s dime.
Education is the key to the success of Inuit and their homeland. I stress this so often in my remarks it is not funny. In fact I tried to stress that in my remarks this time by suggesting that once the minerals are gone we will be right back where we were before the mines came in. Are they the only developers that are able to help sustain the north? I don’t believe so, with education a people who were able to to survive in extreme conditions before well educated peoples came must be able to find sustainable economic development that will sustain the people.
Southerners have always controlled economic development in the north then destroyed them by over consumption to the point of near extinction. Now they are doing the same thing with our non-renewable resources while continuing to destroy and destruct. It seems to me they are treating the north as though it was the wild west of 19th century.
What can a people, who were able to survive in extreme conditions (where well educated and strong forces struggled and lost so many of their own) with very simple, limited implements, do with college or university degrees?
That’s still 63 million in today’s price for iron ore per ton,they say that’s not enough.
Did you know those haul trucks cost over $3Million each?
Payroll at $50 000 / year for 2600 employees would be over $130 Million dollars, and we all know most are making a lot more than 50K / year
$65 Million seems infinite to someone like me. But to Baffinland, that’s not even enough to pay their employees.
I get that Baffinland isn’t perfect, but at least they’re doing something that provides jobs for the locals, and provides steel for my industry.
Just shut it down, go back to welfare state Be a bum crumb
There’s a worldwide shortage of steel, and the Canadian Nunavut gov is preventing companies from supplying it. Everyone knows BL can only ship in June, so if they don’t get the stockpiled ore out now, there’s no point in mining any more of it till after June 2023. For those saying “it’s our land” you’re right, it is. So why do you allow Ottawa prevent you from benefitting from your own resources? Their regulatory delay (read: lack of decision) on the permit renewal will cost many people their livelihoods, I can’t imagine BL or any employer would retain staff that isn’t permitted to produce / ship product to market. To those who oppose BL’s right to profit from the mining operation, why don’t you buy them out, or start your own mine? There’s plenty of opportunity, and the market is ripe for product.
At the end of the day, we’re all in recovery mode, facing shortages of everything from baby food to raw steel. If we got lost in infighting and regulatory laziness, pretty soon we’ll all have nothing. And we won’t be happy. So let’s encourage those who’ve taken the financial risk to organize a profitable and sustainable operation at the ends of the earth, supplying many with dignified livelihoods, and supplying other industries with raw product which they desperately need.
What are you talking about?
Nobody desperately needs iron ore.
Brian Penney desperately needs to drag his underfunded, debt ridden and polluting enterprise towards more and more and more.
The rest of us need a break from his hysterics.
Terrible company. So incredibly disorganized, with silos everywhere.
Brian is always two steps behind. His executive team is comprised of mostly old-school professionals who think that everyone else is 2nd tier and treats them accordingly.
The amount of arrogance on display is breathtaking. It helps explain the insanity of them paying upfront for everything they would eventually need to expand their yearly yield from 6 million tons to 12 million tons per year, thinking the expansion approval process would be a cakewalk.
They truly believed the hearings would just be a formality, and back to business as usual.
To the mine workers, I am praying for you. Baffinland is nothing without you. No miners, no business. Remember that.
Prayers do make a very thin soup. good luck
Australia pumps out 900 million tons a year
We trying to do 6 or 12 which is almost nothing compared to profitable mines , no one’s wants this place to close but sadly here in Canada we find a way to ruin every good opportunity that comes our way