NIRB hearing on Baffinland expansion to resume Monday

The review board’s hearing will resume Nov. 1 to Nov. 6

The Nunavut Impact Review Board’s hearing into Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed expansion at the Mary River mine on north Baffin Island is set to resume Monday. (File photo)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Nunavut Impact Review Board’s hearing into Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed expansion is set to resume Monday.

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.

Baffinland’s CEO has said the company needs the proposal to be approved for its operations to be economically feasible. Opponents of the expansion say it will have a negative impact on the environment.

This will be the board’s fourth try at completing the hearing. It originally began in November 2019 and was postponed in April due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iqaluit.

During that time, Baffinland has made changes to its proposal in response to Inuit concerns, such as including mitigation measures to contain dust, increased Inuit-specific training and not shipping during winter from Milne Port, according to Baffinland spokesperson Heather Smiles.

But some opponents say the company’s efforts are not enough and may be too little too late.

There will be six days of the hearing this time around.

One day is for technical sessions, which is when Baffinland and other groups can ask each other questions; four and a half days are for the community roundtable, which is when the board hears from residents of the potentially affected communities; and a half day is scheduled for closing remarks.

After that, Baffinland will have a month to submit final statements, and the board will begin preparing its final submission for the minister of northern affairs, Daniel Vandal.

Vandal will then approve or deny the project.

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