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Qikiqtani Inuit Association withholds support for Baffinland's proposed Mary River Mine expansion

1307QIA and Baffinland agreement
"I have heard from hunters that the project needs to slow down. I have heard impacted communities speak strongly about their concerns regarding phase two," says .P.J. Akeeagok, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. photo courtesy of the QIA

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association issued a news release on Friday night stating that the organization has passed a resolution to withhold support for Baffinland Iron Mines' proposed expansion of the Mary River Mine.

“QIA’s board gave priority to Inuit perspectives from impacted communities.” QIA president P.J. Akeeagok said. “QIA committed itself wholeheartedly to reviewing the phase two proposal, including developing a series of independent IQ (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit) reports about the project, hosting numerous workshops, meetings, and discussions with impacted communities to weigh the pros and cons associated with the proposed expansion of the Mary River mine.

“Inuit did not participate in the development of the proposal, and key information about project impacts remain unclear. Therefore, the QIA Board will not recommend approval.

"QIA’s board of directors considered when making this important decision included the impacts from dust, impacts to wildlife including caribou, seals, and narwhal, and the limited incorporation of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and the absence of a jointly-developed Adaptive Management Plan.

"QIA’s board of directors remains open to resource development in the Qikiqtani Region and welcomes proposals from Baffinland that prioritize Inuit involvement from the beginning and which align with an Inuit vision of the future. The current Mary River project is permitted to operate on Inuit-owned lands. QIA will continue to uphold Inuit rights and interests with respect to the current project," Akeeagok concluded.

Harvesters from Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay set up blockades at the mine site for several days in February out of opposition to Baffinland's plans to increase iron ore production, build a railway and increase shipping.

Nunavut Impact Review Board public hearings for the proposed Mary River Mine expansion are scheduled April 12-21 in Iqaluit.

About the Author: Derek Neary

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