Change of plan catches Qikiqtani Inuit Association by surprise
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. has proposed the construction of a railway from its Mary River mine on north Baffin to Milne Inlet as part of its Phase II expansion proposal in a Feb. 17 announcement which likely surprised its Nunavut stakeholders.
“Baffinland has determined the incorporation of a railway is an integral facet of the Phase 2 proposal due to a number of environmental, technical and economic benefits,” a letter from the mining company to the Nunavut Impact Review Board said.
That means Baffinland will have to push back the submission of an environmental impact statement to the review board from this April to September, the letter said. Justin Buller, assistant director of major projects for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, announced the news at a board of directors meeting Feb. 18 in Iqaluit.
The letter later appeared on the NIRB’s public registry.
“They haven’t been too explicit on their reasons [for the proposed rail line],” Buller told the QIA board members.
Some directors reacted with surprise and concern at the lack of information and yet another change in plans for the Mary River mine.
“They’re not thinking about the land or the people. Where do we draw the line?” a board member said.
“We need to think about this proposed change in that way as we move forward,” QIA president Pauloosie (PJ) Akeeagok replied, adding he hoped to get more information and clarity from Baffinland on the proposed rail line.
Baffinland shipped its first load of iron ore from Mary River via Milne Inlet in August 2015 as part of its “early revenue” phase.
Global prices of iron ore have plummeted since the NIRB first granted the company its Mary River project certificate in 2012.
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