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Baffinland says blockades have ended at Mary River mine

Photography by: Hark Nijjar
Operations at the Mary River tote road and airstrip will be able to resume son as blockades were lifted as of Thursday. Hark Nijjar Photography

The blockades at Baffinland Iron Mines' Mary River mine has been lifted, the company stated early Thursday afternoon.

Baffinland is in the process of restoring operations at the airstrip and tote road, which were previously blocked by protesters from Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay for a week.

Employee and contractor transfers, food and supply flights, search and rescue flights, and other North Baffin air traffic support services that use the Mary River airstrip are expected to resume soon.

Mine production is also in the process of ramping up again.

"The blockade ended last night and they slept in the MHTO (Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization) cabin last night," Marie Naqitarvik told Nunavut News, speaking on behalf of the protesters. "I'm not sure when they are going home."

Brian Penney, CEO of Baffinland, expressed his gratitude to the mine's 700 personnel at the site, 160 km south of Pond Inlet, and the workers' families for their "support and patience during what was a challenging time."

"The health and safety of everyone on our property remains our top priority,” Penney said. “We welcome the move to a constructive dialogue and hope to work in collaboration with our community partners to find mutually agreeable solutions to the issues that have been raised.”

On Wednesday, Pond Inlet Mayor Joshua Arreak presented terms of behalf of the hamlet to bring an end to the mine site blockades. Among those terms was for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. to pay heed to environmental and wildlife concerns expressed by harvesters and for a greater portion of royalties to be transferred to North Baffin communities.

About the Author: Derek Neary

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