Public hearing closes on Baffinland’s expansion plans

Company’s final submission touts benefits to communities of a bigger Mary River iron mine

Nunavut Impact Review Board Chairperson Marjorie Kaviq Kaluraq, seen in an April 2021 file photo, said the board has closed the public hearing into Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed mine expansion. (File photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Nunavut Impact Review Board has closed its hearing into Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed expansion of its Mary River Mine.

The board decided on Jan. 26 it had enough information to make its recommendation on the company’s expansion plans and closed the hearing two days later.

Baffinland wants to increase its mine’s output by building a 110-kilometre railway between Milne Inlet and Mary River, double its iron ore shipments from six to 12 million tonnes a year, and build a second dock in Milne Inlet.

The hearing began in 2019 and took four in-person meetings, three of them over the course of 2021. More than 2,000 documents were uploaded to the board’s public registry.

NIRB closed the hearing four days after the Oakville-based company sent in its final submission.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board is responsible for making recommendations to the federal minister of northern affairs about the economic and social impacts of development projects. The minister uses that input in making a final decision on whether a project can go ahead or not.

In its 300-page submission, Baffinland made a final pitch, explaining why an expansion will be a benefit for Inuit and the territory.

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association would receive a one-time payment of $45 million if the project is approved, and QIA and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. are expected to receive $1 billion and $1.4 billion in royalties, respectively, over the life of the mine.

Since the in-person meeting in November, Baffinland has made eight commitments to the Hamlet of Pond Inlet, including funding the purchase of a “dedicated hunting vessel” up to $500,000, Contributing $5 million towards a health centre and paying for a new firehall.

In the Hamlet of Pond Inlet’s final submission to the review board on Jan. 10, Mayor Joshua Arreak said the hamlet supports Baffinland’s Phase 2 proposal, joining Sanirajak and Arctic Bay.

The company urged the board to issue its recommendation soon, saying that a decision within 45 days is “critical” to the mine’s operations.

Delays in the review process caused by COVID-19 have worsened the company’s finances, but if the board provides its recommendation to the minister within the time frame, and the project is approved, the company will be able to mitigate some of the impacts, Baffinland’s communications manager Stuart Weinberg said.

Baffinland has said in the past it may have to stop operations at the mine if the expansion is not approved, and Weinberg said that is still an option.

“If [the expansion] is approved it is our intention to operate Mary River for decades to come,” Weinberg said.

“If it is not approved, our future is less certain, and we will be compelled to evaluate all options, including transitioning Mary River to care and maintenance, which is the last thing we want.”



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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Truestory on

    Hopefully, the expansion it goes ahead. Lots of opportunities for us Inuit in the trades field. The younger generation would also benefit. Inuit engineers. Wouldn’t that be a awesome?

  2. Posted by Baffin Unik on

    YAAY! Let’s get this machine going!

  3. Posted by Listener on

    The whales and caribou are holding their breath. Was there a local pole for this statement of support? Or was it assumed?

    • Posted by John on

      Yeah… they are saying “I hope the mine goes ahead so young people will get jobs and stop relying on hunting us as the only way to put food on the table”.

      • Posted by Truestory on

        Most young people would get lost without their gps. And, they’re forgetting their own lingo. Guess them young folk don’t know how to hunt nowadays anyways. So, jobs would be a better option for them.

  4. Posted by Name withheld on


    • Posted by Nope on


  5. Posted by iqaluit on

    We are sending wrong message to the younget generations when you look at the history for what it was created for =Nunavut ,
    there are other ways to make money for them using the sun and the water system.we can also create jobs on eco friendly vegetable s and chicken farms.We work with the evvironment not destroy the worlds biggest migration system for animals and humans alike.We need Eco FriendlyBusiness and Bosses.If we look at the continent creation we can use Evironment for better future growth and Education for All.?

    • Posted by John on

      Really? You are suggesting to bring invasive species like chickens and non native plants into a sensitive ecosystem? That doesn’t sound like a good idea.

    • Posted by John on

      Just so I understand correctly… your “eco friendly” suggestion is to introduce various invasive species like chickens and non-native plants into a sensitive ecosystem?

    • Posted by Astounded by an epiphany on

      Right on. We’ll grow enough chickens and vegetables to eat and sell. We’ll set the price at $3000 a chicken and $500 a carrot and it should all work out. Brilliant economics! Wish I would have thought of this sooner.

  6. Posted by Climate change on

    You guys are blinded by the money and only focusing on taking our core out of the earth and nothing on climate change spending millions to find gold, silver, and oil and absolutely nothing with on helping our earth from climate change, this generation needs to know that mining is the problem with climate change cause the earth has 4 layers inner core , outer core , mantle , and crust these are what is keeping our earth from going around the moon .Government of Nunavut needs to step up with climate change. And take this message serious

    • Posted by Yeah OK? on


    • Posted by Observer on

      To use the quote attributed to Wolfgang Pauli, “That is not only not right; it is not even wrong”.

  7. Posted by Proud of Pond protectors at the hearings on

    I was mesmerized at times watching the proceedings on uvagut tv with the elders speaking of the way it use to be and followed by young Inuit who would like to be able to pass on the knowledge of feeding their families. Isn’t that what all humans want to do, is to ensure their children will have a healthy future. The company just keep wanting to make more money now and it just does not work that way. NIRB you have heard the evidence and know what to do.


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