Pond Inlet politicians applaud board’s Baffinland recommendation

MLA Karen Nutarak concerned about impact if company follows through on ‘threat’ to temporarily close mine

Pond Inlet Mayor Joshua Arreak said mining companies will come and go, but the people of his hamlet will remain. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Although Pond Inlet wants to have economic development, keeping the land and animals healthy is its first priority, says Mayor Joshua Arreak.

“I believe every community, every municipality, dreams of growth, anywhere, anyhow possible for the community to benefit,” Arreak said in an interview.

“The mining company will be here, come and go, but we will always be here. So, we do support our environment, our animals, because that’s where we harvest our food.”

The Nunavut Impact Review Board gave its recommendation on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River mine expansion proposal on May 13, following a four-year-long public hearing that heard from the company itself, federal and territorial departments, hamlets and hunters and trappers organizations.

The board recommended against approving the company’s plan to build a 110-kilometre railroad from the Mary River mine to Milne Inlet, an additional dock at the port, and to double its shipping output from six to 12 million tonnes of iron ore per year through the Tallurutiup Imanga marine conservation area.

The board determined the proposal “as assessed cannot proceed in a manner that will protect the ecosystemic integrity of [Nunavut] and protect and promote the existing and future well-being of the residents.”

It said Baffinland’s plans to mitigate impacts to animals, such as narwhal and caribou, would be ineffective.

Baffinland stated throughout the hearing that it might have to temporarily close down the mine if federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal rejects its expansion.

Vandal’s final decision is expected later this summer.

Arreak called the recommendation “a good decision,” despite the hamlet of Pond Inlet releasing a letter of support for the expansion in January. If Baffinland’s proposal is eventually rejected, he said, life for Inuit will remain.

“We will have to do what needs to be done, even without Baffinland if that’s the case. So we’ll live, we won’t move,” he said.

Tununiq MLA Karen Nutarak didn’t say how she felt about the board’s recommendation, but said she was glad it listened to her community.

“A lot of time, Inuit don’t get heard. The voice of Nunavut barely gets heard,” she said in an interview.

Although Baffinland hasn’t reached its Inuit employment targets, Nutarak knows there are people in her community who are employed at Mary River, including some in supervisory roles.

She’s concerned about what might happen if the company shuts down the mine should Vandal reject the expansion plan, although she called that a “threat” from the company that has divided the community.

“It feels like we lose our foundation in the community,” she said.

Nutarak said she would like to see the company use more Inuit qaujimajatuqangit, or traditional knowledge, in its plans for the project and better mitigate impacts on the environment prior to expanding the mine, if it is approved.

Expansion is expected to bring 127 new jobs to Pond Inlet in three years, said Baffinland spokesperson Peter Akman. Overall, the company projects 300 Inuit will be employed out of a total of 2,100 employees.

As of April, the company has reached 18 per cent Inuit employment. Its goal, negotiated with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, is 24 per cent, Akman said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

Baffinland has also committed to building a $10-million Inuit training centre if the expansion is approved.

Akman said the company has included traditional knowledge in its proposal by gaining information from workshops on how the land is used as well as environmental management.

“Baffinland recognizes the integral role of [Inuit qaujimajatuqangit] in environmental management,” he said, adding there will be Inuit-led monitoring and decision-making throughout the life of the mine.

Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization chairperson David Qamaniq declined an interview request.

 

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    Thats quite a 180 from the esteemed Mayor. The first letter of support seemed like a cookie cutter letter directly from the mining company.

    Now the Council Member who brought the concerns forward has been removed.

    Something smells fishy and it isn’t from the water

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    • Posted by Asuugurq on

      The letter came from the consultant at the time. That person thinks Inuit are still in the 60’s and can’t think for themselves so he just had the mayor signed the letter. The mayor was fooled into thinking the consultant was smart.

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    • Posted by Snapshot on

      Hope Boazie gets the money that he deserves for damages and whatever he can get, plus be put back in to the council that the people voted him for.

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  2. Posted by Lives in Nunavut on

    I’d honestly be surprised if candidates from Pond Inlet are even considered for work as long as they have enough applicants from other communities. It’s perfectly in their right for the mine to chose the candidates they deem qualified to select for interviews.

    “You didn’t want the mine and now suddenly want to work for us?”

    “Yeah don’t think so, we’re gonna hire from the areas that wanted us”

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  3. Posted by Nunavummiu on

    Sad reality that many northern Baffin folks could lose their jobs and thank you QUK members that played the game. You know who you are will most likely be the cause of many poeple losing their jobs. Your geed I’ll cause and I hope you pay the piper…

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  4. Posted by Truestory on

    If I loose my job. Can I sue the hamlet of Pond Inlet? Or would a class action be better? I do NOT want to go back to “income support”.

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    • Posted by Tariaksu on

      Better to sue MHTO not the Hamlet of Pond Inlet. MHTO have refused to deal and work with anyone since BIM proposed Phase 2.

  5. Posted by Fooled on

    BIM have been brainwashing so many people. The reality is if the company closes down it would be bought by another company, when there is so much demand for Iron ore. What company just closes down without selling their loss? I would not be worried if the company shuts down, as it cause so much divide and conquer to the communities. There are better companies that can work with communities.

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    • Posted by Truestory on

      No one wants to buy B.I.M. as Pond Inlet is against the expansion. I would not want to buy a mine that is not supported buy communities. Enuff written.

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    • Posted by No Bro, Its done… on

      Seriously, you think anyone will be interested in buying B.I.M. after this?? Nope… if they shut down, it will be years before anyone is remotely interested in trying again. And once again, its not really a threat – if it is going to happen regardless…

      However in 10 to 20 years it may be something that a Nunavut Business may want to try running, as the ore is not going anywhere…

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