Nunavut review board advises against iron ore mine expansion on Baffin Island

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CAMBRIDGE BAY, Nunavut — The Nunavut Impact Review Board is recommending that plans to expand an iron ore mine on the northern tip of Baffin Island not proceed. Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.

CAMBRIDGE BAY, Nunavut — The Nunavut Impact Review Board is recommending that plans to expand an iron ore mine on the northern tip of Baffin Island not proceed.

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. is seeking to expand its Mary River iron ore mine near Pond Inlet by doubling its annual production from 6 to 12 million tonnes.

The mine, considered one of the richest iron deposits in the world, opened in 2015 and ships around six million tonnes of ore a year.

The mine says the expansion would more than double employment at the mine to more than 1,000.

The review panel said in a statement Friday that the proposal may have significant and lasting adverse effects on marine mammals, the marine environment, fish, caribou and other wildlife, vegetation and fresh water.

The council said these negative effects could also affect Inuit harvesting, cultivation, land use and food security.

“The Panel has concluded that the proposal as assessed cannot be carried out in a manner that will protect the ecosystem integrity of the Nunavut Settlement Area and that will protect and promote the current and future well-being of Nunavut residents and communities. region, and Canada more generally,” the board said.

“As a result, the council has recommended to the minister that the Phase 2 development proposal, as assessed, not be permitted at this time.”

Federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal thanked the council for its work and said the government would review the report and its recommendation.

“I will take the time to review the report with federal officials,” Vandal said on Twitter. “A decision will be made following appropriate due diligence and careful analysis, including whether or not the duty to consult has been met.”

The mine project has faced opposition, particularly from hunters and trappers in the community closest to the mine.

Inuit hunters have said they fear a mine expansion could accelerate the continued decline of a narwhal population they depend on for food.

In a letter sent to council last week, the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization said the mine is already harming their ability to harvest this important food source.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 13, 2022.

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