Editorial: Mary River: if financial viability is a factor, then prove it – by Jim Bell (Nunatsiaq News – November 14, 2019)


Nunavut’s system for regulating industrial development, born within the 1993 Nunavut land claims agreement, has likely never faced a greater test than the twisting, turning series of environmental and socio-economic assessments for the Mary River iron mine over the past 10 years.

This was on full public display in Iqaluit earlier this month, when the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s final public hearing on the $900-million railway expansion proposal from Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. imploded amidst a mood of confusion and incoherence. The final two days of that seven-day hearing, scheduled for Pond Inlet, were cancelled.

At the same time, the fate of Baffinland’s multibillion dollar, multigenerational iron mine is now shrouded in uncertainty. When this editorial was written, the review board had yet to decide on a motion from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. that, if accepted, would delay proceedings for eight to 12 months.

And Baffinland’s landlord, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, declared earlier they cannot support or endorse the railway-based expansion. But QIA’s business arm, the Qikiqtaaluk Corp., has declared its enthusiastic support for the idea. So has Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. This is a complex issue.

As for Baffinland, its vice-president of sustainable development, Megan Lord-Hoyle, reacted by claiming that the company is now concerned about the project’s very survival, saying, “we will do everything possible to survive and protect the employment of 3,000 Canadians, 476 of which are Inuit.”

For the rest of this editorial: https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/mary-river-if-financial-viability-is-a-factor-then-prove-it/