A small gathering of Inuit subsistence hunters are staging a blockade at the Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. complex in Nunavut, claiming that their concerns about a proposed expansion of the Mary River mine have not been heard.
Privately-held Baffinland said that two groups of hunters had gathered at the mine on Baffin Island on Thursday night – one at the company’s airstrip, and the other on the supply road that leads out of the mine.
The Oakville, Ont.-based miner has proposed doubling its production of iron ore at Mary River to 12 million tonnes a year, from six million tonnes.
Baffinland also wants to build a railroad that would transport ore from its complex in the Qikiqtani region of North Baffin to Milne Port, about 100 kilometres away.
One of the on-site protesters, Namen Inuarak, said in an interview that hunters are worried the expansion will damage their livelihoods. Of particular concern is the effect increased shipping of iron ore might have on the marine mammal population, which they depend upon for food.
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