Indigenous opposition to Arctic mine expansion could halt development – by Naill McGee (Globe and Mail – February 1, 2021)

A proposed iron ore mine expansion by Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation is raising environmental red flags among Inuit groups, hamlets, and subsistence hunters and trappers, potentially putting the brakes on one of the biggest industrial developments ever envisaged in the Canadian Arctic.

Privately held Baffinland hopes to double its production of iron ore at its Baffin Island mine in Nunavut to 12 million tonnes a year, from six million tonnes.

The Oakville, Ont.-based miner also wants to build a railroad that would transport ore from its Mary River mine in the Qikiqtani region of North Baffin to Milne Port, about 100 kilometres away.

Baffinland says the expansion is crucial to make the mine sustainable and profitable in the long term. By boosting production, the company will also be able to cash in on buoyant iron ore prices.

The commodity’s main use is in the production of steel, and lately Chinese production has been brisk as its economy stages a rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. Baffinland is owned by U.S. private equity group The Energy and Minerals Group and giant Luxembourg-based steel producer ArcelorMittal.

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