A week-long blockade by a small group of Inuit subsistence hunters at the Mary River iron ore mine in Nunavut has been lifted, after protestors received encouraging signs that their concerns about a planned expansion of the mine will be heard.
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. has proposed doubling its production of iron ore at Mary River to 12 million tonnes a year. The privately held miner also wants to build a railroad that would transport ore from its complex in North Baffin to Milne Port, about 100 kilometres away.
On the evening of Feb. 4, a group of hunters set up blockades at an airstrip and supply road at the mine in Baffin Island. The hunters said they were concerned that a bigger operation at Mary River could decimate the marine mammal population, which they depend upon for food.
They also alleged they had not received any royalties from the existing operation and demanded representation with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA), the regional Inuit group that distributes mining royalties.
Late Wednesday, the protestors agreed to leave the site after representatives with Inuit organizations, including the QIA, reached out to ask for a face-to-face meeting.
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