Baffinland Iron Mines has obtained approval from federal ministers to continue mining six million tonnes of iron ore until Dec. 31, 2021.
In a letter to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB), stamped May 19, Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal and his colleagues endorse the review board’s recommendation that Baffinland’s six million tonne limit be extended. However, Vandal noted that the federal government will strengthen terms and conditions pertaining to Baffinland’s monitoring of impacts on marine mammals under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. As well, the federal government will ensure that Baffinland submits performance audits twice per year, to address a concern that the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) raised.
The iron ore from the Mary River mine, 160 km south of Pond Inlet, is transported by truck along a tote road to the port at Milne Inlet and then shipped overseas to foreign markets.
The six million tonne limit is expected to be in place until a final decision is made on Baffinland’s phase two proposal, which would increase mine output initially to 12 million tonnes and later to 30 million tonnes by rail, if permits are granted.
Baffinland received the green light to raise its production to six million tonnes of iron ore in Sept 2018, climbing from 4.2 million tonnes. NIRB was opposed to that increase but the QIA threw its support behind the initiative after the renegotiation of its Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement. The Government of Canada also backed the increase in tonnage.