Pond Inlet’s support for mine expansion should be struck from record: councillor

Council didn’t see submission on Mary River mine proposal before it appeared on Nunavut Impact Review Board registry, says Boazie Ootoova

On the eve of the deadline for Nunavut Impact Review Board’s recommendation over a proposed expansion of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River iron mine on north Baffin Island, a hamlet councillor in Pond Inlet says his community’s support for the expansion should be struck from the record. (File photo)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Pond Inlet councillor is asking that the hamlet’s letter of support for a proposed mine expansion be struck from a review board’s public record, claiming the mayor did not consult council before signing it.

The letter, signed by Mayor Joshua Arreak, was submitted to the Nunavut Impact Review Board on Jan. 10 as part of the hamlet’s closing statements on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed Mary River iron mine expansion.

On May 10, Coun. Boazie Ootoova sent a letter to the review board and federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal, stating councillors did not approve a resolution to support the expansion.

“In the absence of a resolution expressing the positions included in the mayor’s final submission letter, the mayor acted in violation,” Ootoova wrote in the letter.

Further, Ootoova said, the letter “contradicts hamlet resolutions” on the proposed expansion, and councillors “were not aware of this letter before it was filed with the NIRB.”

“This letter [of support] gives the false impression that the Pond Inlet hamlet is now supporting phase two,” he wrote. “This letter should be removed from the NIRB registry and should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Baffinland’s [proposal].”

In an interview with Nunatsiaq News, Arreak said supporting the mine expansion was not his decision; it had to be supported by the hamlet’s council.

“I was just representing the council as I should,” Arreak said. “Everybody’s being hyped up, trying to make trouble.”

To expand Mary River mine, Baffinland wants to construct a 110-kilometre railway between Milne Inlet and the mine, double its shipping output from six to 12 million tonnes per year through the Tallurutiup Imanga marine conservation area, and build another dock at its Milne Inlet port.

The proposal is at the end of a three-year public hearing process that allowed the review board to gather information from residents, hunters and trappers organizations and hamlets of five affected north Baffin communities, Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord.

The board has a deadline of Friday to make a recommendation about whether the project should go forward. After that, Vandal’s office will have 90 days to approve or deny the project.

Baffinland has maintained that if the expansion isn’t approved, it may have to put Mary River mine into care and maintenance and lay off employees.

Pond Inlet’s letter of support lists the many benefits the hamlet receives from Baffinland, such as more than $16 million paid in wages since 2015 to residents who work at the mine, and nearly $16 million in contracts to Inuit businesses in the hamlet.

The company has also committed to building an Inuit training centre and creating eight new community-based full-time positions if the expansion goes through.

In the support letter, Arreak references an Oct. 30, 2021, council resolution that outlines “several conditions that would need to be met as conditions of a phase two approval.”

Some of those conditions include Baffinland paying the affected communities $300 each for every ore-carrying car on its train trips, paying to pave the roads in Pond Inlet and giving the hamlet access to equipment and machinery Baffinland owns.

That resolution, obtained by Nunatsiaq News, takes the position of the local Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization, which is that the project should not be approved because it will have significant environmental impacts.

But, it states, “if [sic] phase two were to be approved, the hamlet asks that the following be implemented as conditions of approval.”

Signatures on that resolution include Arreak’s, along with councillors Joshua Idlout, Moses Koonark, Sharon Ootook, Joanna Innualuk-Kunnuk, Michel Oolateeta and Boazie Ootoova.

The hamlets of Arctic Bay, Sanirajak and Grise Fiord have all given support for the expansion.

In an email to Nunatsiaq News, the review board’s acting executive director Mark Ings would not comment on Ootoova’s letter, but said the board stopped taking evidence when the hearing closed Jan. 28.

“No documents received by the board after that time would be considered in decision-making in relation to the [expansion proposal],” he wrote.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by 867 on

    Sounds like Council dont want to see good paying jobs being made available to their constituents. They must like the welfare state status quo.

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    • Posted by what? on

      Have you ever heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch?” Decades of employment – often for people outside of Nunavut – could cost centuries of hunting. You may want to study up on the history of this file when you have the chance.

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  2. Posted by snapshot on

    Quasi-judicial process broken by the mayor of Pond Inlet?

    Democratically elected and has taken oath. I wonder if a mayor can be criminally charged and thrown to jail?

    I have a feeling there is no Pond Inlet Hamlet council resolution to support phase 2. This might be a case of a mayor going about his business like a small town thinking mentality like it’s 1980’s.

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  3. Posted by aputi on

    Just approve them mine stop complaining that your kids are hungry, pay your bills go to work, its over 50 year mine life

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  4. Posted by listener on

    This is halarious. Did his signature come with a cheq? That would be interesting to find out. This whole thing, meetings and all, feel like a farce if the final decision falls in one person’s lap. This should have ben put to public vote. Obviously the mayor was not representing the people when he signed.
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    867 – truely dont think this is the case. BIM never employed more than a handful since the beginning, nor did they follow through with Anything since pre-revenue phase. (except food hampers)
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    Snap shot – very reasonable outlook

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  5. Posted by Sam on

    Puppets on a string all of them for and against should be left alone up there and live their traditional lifestyle.the federal gov. Wants it that way, and so do the consultants, live your lives the way you want. Lots of income support and fish and whales. Live in peace and harmony with the land, enough of this devide and conquer.

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  6. Posted by 246 on

    For the percentage of Inuit working there, as decimal as it seems the government has been profiting off the mines since day one. For a number of Inuit working at the mines let’s say 5% of the workforce as long as Inuit stay below 20%, do you know the GN was getting way more than the years combined, putting together all the Inuit workers together over the years. As long there is a voting system, i day the mine will keep trying every for years. Time to Wake up, follow the bread crumbs

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