Iron ore mine gets permission to proceed

September 20, 2012

A huge iron ore project in Nunavut, Canada earned the right to proceed from the Nunavut Impact Review Board on Sept. 14.

The Nunavut’s Impact Review Board (NIRB) issued its final report allowing Baffinland’s Mary River iron project to proceed, but with 200 terms and conditions, mostly environmental.

The decision is the culmination of a four-year assessment of the project, in which Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. plans to build a massive openpit mine at its Mary River site about 160 km (100 miles) south of Pond Inlet, Nunavut, along with a railway and port that would allow icebreakers to ship the ore through Arctic waters year-round. The 17,000-ha (42,000 acres) mine will cost about $4 billion to build.

“Obviously NIRB recommended in the direction we were hoping they would,” said Baffinland spokesperson Greg Missal. “Now we have to spend a number of days looking at the document and looking at the terms and conditions.”

The 200 terms and conditions focused on monitoring and minimizing some of the possible negative environmental and social effects of the development.

A range of concerns on the project were raised during the final public hearings this summer. They included the mine’s potential impact on the North Baffin caribou herd and on archeological sites, the possibility of oil spills in the shipping lane and disruptions to marine wildlife, the availability of training and jobs for Inuit, and the possible social problems that could result from an influx of money into nearby communities.
In Igloolik, one of the closest communities to the proposed mine site, acting mayor Peter Ivalu said the mine will mean jobs but his community is still divided.

“It’s about 50-50,” he said. “There’s still some opposition to the project going ahead.”

The board’s report now goes to the federal minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development for the final OK, and Baffinland will decide whether it can proceed with the imposed conditions


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