Baffinland’s new commitments too little, too late, critics say

Mining company says it’s trying to address concerns over its Mary River expansion plan

Udloriak Hanson, Baffinland’s vice-president of community and strategic development, said the company is going to “have to continue to be flexible and provide certainty to Inuit that we are listening and we are addressing their concerns.” (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. has a list of new commitments it has made to communities near its Mary River mine, should its proposed expansion be approved, but critics say it’s not enough.

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. That proposal is the subject of a Nunavut Impact Review Board hearing underway this week in Iqaluit.

Baffinland has committed to an independent audit of the dust spread by the mine’s operations, to direct how the company will address environmental concerns if its expansion gets the green light.

It would also cut the proposed number of ore carrier trips to 168 a year from its original proposal of 174, and it would ship between July 15 and October 31, with a contingency to Nov. 15 based on ice conditions and consultation with the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization.

Among other commitments, the company is adding six new full-time positions in Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Igloolik and Sanirajak.

“All of these commitments have been developed from what we’ve heard from the communities,” said Udloriak Hanson, Baffinland’s vice president of community and strategic development, in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.

Igloolik mayor Merlyn Recinos said he wants to see the company commit to even fewer shipments each year, and there needs to be more done to support employees, like offer housing.

“I think infrastructure and jobs in the communities is a no-brainer, and it should’ve been something that was there from the get-go,” Recinos said, adding that the positions haven’t been finalized yet, but may include office administration work and an Inuit qaujimajatuqangit expert.

“I really truly think that Baffinland is trying, but it’s so late in the game,” he said.

Hanson said Baffinland has changed its proposal multiple times to reflect what communities wanted and that it will continue to work with Inuit.

“It’s a demonstration of us having listened, and us being flexible enough to try to address these concerns,” said Hanson.

The company will also gradually increase its shipping volume over four years to better monitor impacts, as requested by the Hamlet of Pond Inlet.

During the Nunavut Impact Review Board hearing on Baffinland’s expansion plans on Wednesday, Pond Inlet mayor Joshua Arreak said the company’s compromise on the gradual increase does not mean the hamlet now supports the expansion.

The review board’s hearing on Baffinland will continue until April 21. It’s an extension of a hearing that began in January and resumed Monday.

After the NIRB completes its hearing, it will pass its recommendation on to Dan Vandal, the federal minister of northern affairs, who will approve or reject the project.

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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by Truestory on

    B.I.M. is not responsible for the housing shortages in Nunavut. Why would B.I.M. want to build houses when all they get is negative feedback?

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    • Posted by Mark Christir on

      Housing is real unlike the ever changing promises made. At least with housing, when this company takes what it wants and leaves the mess behind, there will be some housing. Check this company ownership and environmental damage it has done throughout the world.

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      • Posted by Truestory on

        Let me get this. N.I.R.B., and Q.I.A. received millions from B.I.M.. These two “Inuit” bodies should put the money they received into building houses with the help from the HOUSING ASSOCIATION that is responsible for the houses in Nunavut.

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  2. Posted by Don’t mess this up! on

    Just to note the outcome of this NIRB hearings is being closely watched by potential Nunavut investors, who are looking for a successful resolution to bolster their confidence in Nunavut as a developing mining district. All parties need to sit down and find creative solutions to address and resolve the current issues before the NIRB and support responsible advancement of the mine. While at the same time being diligent to ensure the work being proposed is done with due care for the environment. The NIRB process is a good one to provide those assurances. The Mary River project is a game changing opportunity for Nunavut and provides an opportunity for long term training, employment, and sustained revenues for Inuit Associations and Governments for many years to come. If phase two should proceed it will create over 500 positions during the construction period and sustain well over 1,000 full-time positions during ongoing operations. Please don’t wish this away!
    Increased production is necessary to insulate Baffinland from fluctuation in global iron ore prices ensuring the financial stability of the company in the short and long term.
    Also, It’s not just Baffinland that wants the phase two process to move forward, previously through the Inuit Certainty Agreement QIA wanted the NIRB to move forward as well, as both parties have indicated that many of the technical issues have been resolved. What has really changed this time around, please land owners get you stories straight and stop the roller coaster ride, the economic welfare of your people is at stake here instead of social welfare!

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    • Posted by Joe on

      As the english say “cry me a river.” This was all hidden, that unless we gave all this the mine would fail. Good speech, but I for one, am not buying.
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      Future investors can watch closely and learn what not to do. Thats good.
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      Also, mine wont effect our economic welfare no more than it has in the past, that is what we have learned to expect from BIM. Only reason QIA supported you is because you were throwing crazy money at them, and it worked for a while. But we never saw anything outside of Iqaluit.
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      The Pres saying he will be here for months if he has to, lol he was the first one back on the plane! Thank you for that!

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      • Posted by Future investors on

        Future investors will definitely learn what not to do. Invest in Nunavut. It seems every time an agreement gets near, someone holds their breath, stomps their feet and blocks a runway demanding more.

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        • Posted by Progress stalled on

          The Nunavut Investment Rejection Bureau makes it incredibly difficult to get projects approved before investors get scared off.

        • Posted by Ditto on

          Ditto!!

          Unfortunately for the people of Nunavut, investors will stay away, as it’s not worth it. The business model to make it work will make investors shy away as the risks are far too great.

          It is amazing how people of Nunavut are so investor and business savvy……not!!

  3. Posted by hey joe on

    Hey Joe – you appear to have all the answers and it appears insight to what investors will or will not do. An all knowing source of everything there is to know about investing, mining and how to do it right. How come you’re not working to attract all these investors and teach them to do it right. Just wondering but then how could you find the time away from your current position whatever that is.

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  4. Posted by Quantity and timing on

    Just wondering what type of scale or timing device is used to determine “too little too late”. I hear this all the time but still puzzled as to the equipment or calculations used to produce the results. Ranks right up there with “doesn’t go far enough”. What should be the acceptable distance to measure efforts. Easily said but how do you defend such claims with quantifiable statistics. Could these possibly be statements lacking in substance.

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  5. Posted by John on

    I think Baffinaland needs to be pushed to do the right thing but it also feels like people misunderstand its role as opposed to QIA, the NIRB, The Nunavut Goverment to various other groups vying for influence and power within negotiations over the future of Nunavut. Where they forget who has had the power over the last decades to better the communities and whose on these boards rubber stamping various agreements. The corruption is all over and people need to speak up from all sides to ensure people cant hide behind shadows and “the way things are done”.

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  6. Posted by eskimo joe on

    if they want this ore bad enough, make them build a rail road all the way to iqaluit through the valleys to the deep water port being build. then communities can try to join the rail by dirt roads from their communities. for the life of this mine, it’s unforetold billions upon billions to some European share holders. high demands calls for high prices. this rail can be build for 3.5 billion. this amount, 30% of it would end up at qia hands for the life time of the mine anyway as it is now. you know and I know, it would be a lot of wasted $$$ under current deals at hand. nothing for the little joes.

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    • Posted by Hopeful on

      The government of Nunavut should of started this in 1999. Now we would of had roads and every community would have a construction company instead of all the construction now coming from Quebec in Iqaluit . It’s not bim decision or right to build roads or railway to iqaluit it’s our government .

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  7. Posted by Me on

    Earlier years, earlier times, Inuit from different communities asked bffnlnd if they could transport food to their communities but bffnlnd declined. If they had started doing so, it would have been easier going for bffnlnd since food prices would have gone lower, Inuit would be more happier. Bffnlnd need to think more about giving support for Inuit communities.

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  8. Posted by Pow on

    I’m not Inuk but I support the Guardians. The concessions being made by the company are nothing compared to their profit margins, just tokenistic gestures. Inuit shouldn’t have to sacrifice their land to “attract investors,” and I think more Inuit need to be heard, not just the less oppressed ones from QIA, NTI, and NIB. Nunavut is rich already in resources and animals. Mineral extraction only has short term benefits and time and time again we see mining companies screw over working class and indigenous people all over the world. The companies kill workers and kill indigenous lands. More solidarity like that shown between some Baffinland workers and the Guardians is needed to fight against parasitic capitalism and build a different economy that puts people and the environment first, not profits only really benefiting the richest 0.1%.

    • Posted by Ditto on

      Good to know your not Inuk and your statements show your not from Nunavut either. Thus, your observations and statements are irrelevant. Your just stirring the pot with a long stick from somewhere else.

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