Deadline set for NIRB decision on Baffinland proposal

Recommendations to be made by May 13, says chairperson Marjorie Kaviq Kaluraq

Part of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s expansion proposal is to build another dock at its port in Milne Inlet, pictured here. The Nunavut Impact Review Board will give its recommendation to Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal on or before May 13. (File photo courtesy of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.)

By Nunatsiaq News

The Nunavut Impact Review Board says it will issue its recommendation on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed expansion of its Mary River mine by May 13.

That’s according to a Feb. 4 letter from NIRB chairperson Marjorie Kaviq Kaluraq to federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, who has the power to approve or reject the proposal. The review board makes recommendations to the minister about the economic and social impacts of proposed development projects in the territory.

The review board’s public hearing into Baffinland’s Phase 2 expansion began in November 2019 and ended in January 2022. In-person meetings were postponed or extended three times during that period and more than 2,000 documents were filed for the board to consider.

To increase the output of the Mary River mine, Baffinland wants to build a 110-kilometre railroad from mine to Milne Inlet and an additional dock at the Milne Inlet port, and it wants to double its iron ore shipments from six to 12 million tonnes per year.

In the company’s final submission on Jan. 24, Baffinland called for the review board to issue its recommendation on the proposal within 45 days, as required by the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, saying that a timely decision is “critical.”

But Kaluraq said the board needs an additional 60 days on top of that allotted time to be able to consider all of the information before it.

“The board understands that [Baffinland] and other parties may be disappointed and impacted by the extension … but the panel has determined that extra time is critical” to assessing the proposal, Kaluraq said.

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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Outsider on

    As an outsider looking in, the optics of this entire process is both extremely fascinating and disappointing. The Government of Nunavut’s position does not reflect that of the communities and it appears the GN has a muzzle on their regional biologist and other experts in their fields and they want a few tax dollars.
    The qia’s position has switched since the previous president left and now they side with the north baffin communities but they have signed the Inuit Certainty Agreement which provides a framework for the approval regardless of those communities.
    NTI staff have opposed this based the community concerns but are powerless because of QIA’s signature.
    The Mayor of Pond Inlet has gone against his council and signed a support letter probably for a few jobs.
    How will nirb walk around the communities on this one? They don’t have competent staff and regardless of their decision will see major lawsuits from one side of the other.
    It exposes the failures of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and arguably, the failure of decentralization. Everybody should prepare popcorn for the fireworks that will come after the nirb and the minister come to a decision.

    • Posted by Let’s Zoom In on

      Is it possible to quantify levels of support versus resistance to this question? Your post seems to imply there is widespread rejection for the proposed expansion at the ground level, and that is it. Is that actually true? It would be interesting to see some polling data on this, though I am unsure there is any.

    • Posted by Philip Uvilluk on

      Nunavutmiut need jobs and training. Here is their chance. Nanisivik and Polaris as well as mines in Central Arctic provided jobs and training. D.E.W. Lines provided those as well. Very few other places provide trades training . The mine provide Pond Inletmiut more than a few jobs, as well as other communities, it provides many jobs, millions in earnings. Any industry should be welcomed, provides for future job related.

  2. Posted by Truestory on

    N.I.R.B., I pay taxes thru my work. I support my family and “Income Support” collectors. Approve the 2nd Phase project for B.I.M., as I help feed my family and your constituents.

  3. Posted by Tom Shelby on

    Bottom line is if BIM doesn’t get to add the railway and port, they may decide to close the mine and tear it down, this will take away many jobs and cash out of local people’s pockets. Let face it, for what really? A few caribou or nesting grounds for the Arctic Tern? BIM is planning a railway which connects everyone to be able to buy from the south which in turn, will be a lot cheaper to live. Jobs + Cash + Cheaper products = Happy life

    • Posted by sam on

      baffinland iron mine is not the only interested mine in the whole wide world! if they want out, so be it!!!!
      and it is believed that once the phase 2 is approved, there wont be as much jobs available because “it will make the job easier”.

  4. Posted by Which Province Are You Writing From? on

    You really don’t know much, do you? They want to build a railway from Milne Inlet to the mine. It connects nobody. It would be over 100km from the nearest community of Pond Inlet, and probably more like 250km of rail if you ever wanted to actually connect the community by land. People in Pond Inlet can already “buy from the south” using the sealift that happens every year.

    • Posted by Northern Changes on

      In most ways you are right, the railway is a means to transport only ore from the mine to the port. It will reduce the carbon footprint of the mine significantly but does have the possibility of impacting caribou migration, though these impacts have already existed for years with the tote road that runs parallel to the proposed rail line and trucks that are currently transporting the ore. Increased ship traffic impacting fragile narwhale populations that are being hunted to extinction by invasive Orca is also a major concern. These are relevant concerns in a fragile arctic ecosystem. But, in some ways you are wrong, though the railway may not physically connect the northern hamlets to the south, the mine does bring many benefits to these communities that would not otherwise exist and creates a bridge, using sealift, to the south for much needed supplies and other services. The way forward may be difficult for many to deal with and there are many valid concerns about the expansion. Would it be better to roll the dice, cancel the expansion and risk the mine shutting down, or is the way forward to take some risks, possibility impacting wildlife in a changing climate and continue buying into the southern lifestyle with all of its luxuries? The North has changed significantly in the last century and the youth have changed with it. Everyone wants a smart phone, inreach, GPS, boat, snowmobile and the best rifle and scope they can get their hands on. Food security helps too as most staples of life are ridiculously unfairly priced throughout the North. How can anyone afford this with so little employment outside of mining in Nunavut. The young need a future and right now, the expansion is it. Find a viable plan B then think about cancelling it.

  5. Posted by Take your time NIRB on

    The ore ain’t going anywhere and if the company can’t afford to wait so be it. Perhaps a more stable company will come this way. If the project isn’t viable, it should never be approved anyway at the expense of the wildlife the communities need for nutrients in their food.

    • Posted by Truestory on

      Hmm….The Chinese are buying everything. Hopefully not the Mary River. Would be worse if they bought it. And you heard of their business practices.

    • Posted by Look at the obvious on

      This is a one shot deal. The logistics of operating a mine in this location are terrible. The logistics of restarting a mine in this location are prohibitively expensive. If the mine shuts down, there isn’t anyone willing to risk capital to restart it. The ore will stay put and the jobs will disappear along with the youth who will leave to search for employment down south.
      More stable company isn’t the issue, more suitable location is.

  6. Posted by Been Here Before on

    Why is everyone so caught up with the training and job prospects? This was said since the beginning and it was all a show. North baffin communities have not seen one house, one training facility since the beginning when the promises were first made. But the money, offices, and housing in the capital where QIA headquarters are has thrived.
    And as for jobs, this eliminates all the truck driver jobs in place of a rail transport. The noise will definitely drive away the wild life, and the tracks are near impossible for hunters to cross to go between the communities where no roads, only traditional routes, exist. Anyone else saying otherwise is either ignorant of the reality or is an outsider with the possibility of financial gain. Or Someone hired to work in the north and forming opinions without ever having set foot on the land, and is eventually returning to the south.

    • Posted by Truestory on

      The promises will be honired AFTER the phases are approved, otherwise, they’d just be spending money. Let’s hope they approve it.

      • Posted by Been Here Before Too on

        Lol, is that a joke? Same thing was said since pre.revenue stage. All a stage, obviously.

  7. Posted by Jamie on

    I’ve worked in that region, I’ve not seen caribou . I live in Labrador where there are rails and large caribou migration, the animals go where the go. Now the whales could be another story but they will also adapt. I just want to say that if the folks want to keep grand father way then do it whole, throw white man ways out everything go and live the life of grand father not do it half way. Or embrace the change and the future for the children to develop and be sufficient and learn skills for the future.

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