Review board resets Mary River public hearing for September

Nunavut Impact Review Board pushes back date, originally set for May

Baffinland’s existing port site at Milne Inlet. The company proposes building a 110-km railway between this location and the Mary River mine, along with the construction of additional infrastructure at the port. (Baffinland photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Pond Inlet residents will now have to wait until this September for a public hearing on the railway-based expansion plan that Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. is proposing for its Mary River mine.

That’s because the Nunavut Impact Review Board has re-scheduled the public hearing for Sept. 16 to Sept. 21.

The original public hearing dates had been set for May 7 to May 12, which would have let the review board send a recommendation to the northern affairs minister by the end of June.

But the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and various federal government departments told the review board that the old schedule did not give them enough time to look at technical information and study the company’s updated environmental management plans.

After that, Baffinland weighed in to propose a longer schedule, which the NIRB has essentially accepted.

Under its expansion proposal, Baffinland would build the most northerly railway line in Canada.

The railway, running about 110 kilometres from Mary River northwards to Milne Inlet, would likely start operating by 2021 and accommodate a total fleet of five locomotives and 200 cars.

Building the railway would require multiple quarries and at least 12.7 million cubic metres of rock fill.

The plan, if approved, would increase the size of the iron ore shipments the company is permitted to send to markets in Europe through Milne Inlet from the current limit of six million tonnes a year to 12 million tonnes a year and, eventually, 30 million tonnes.

The expansion proposal also includes another railway-port proposal that the company received permission to build in its December 2012 project certificate.

That’s the 150-km railway running south to a proposed port at Steensby Inlet that would carry an additional 18 million tonnes a year to market on ships sailing through Foxe Basin and Davis Strait.

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