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Guest comment: Baffinland's expansion plan designed to address concerns

2020 Headshots
2020 Headshots

Over the past three weeks, we have met with community members in hamlets across North Baffin Island. We listened to their concerns about the proposed Mary River mine expansion and we are grateful to them for openly sharing their views on why they support, or oppose, the expansion.

These conversations followed several years of consultation with communities, over hundreds of meetings about the proposed expansion. But as is often the case, things come into sharper focus the closer they get. As it is with the continuation of the NIRB hearing.

Baffinland team members, including CEO Brian Penney, right, were at the NIRB public hearings in Iqaluit last week, before they were suspended following a positive Covid-19 case being identified in the capital. photo courtesy of Baffinland

We are listening. If something is important to Inuit and to communities, then it is important to Baffinland. So we are taking more steps and proposing new measures to address concerns. These new commitments are above and beyond what has already been proposed in the Inuit Certainty Agreement (ICA) and through our expansion proposal.

Here is how we are responding to what we heard:

Our new commitments now include more solutions to the dust issue. In addition to enclosing our secondary ore crusher and eliminating the trucking that causes dust along the tote road, we will triple dust monitoring with greater Inuit involvement. We will fund an independent third party to conduct an audit of all dust sources to identify what further actions the company can – and will – take to further address this important issue.

We will do more to monitor wildlife. We will expand caribou monitoring with a program that will create 24 new positions for Inuit. We will also expand Arctic char monitoring with a program designed in partnership with Pond Inlet in Milne Inlet and Navy Board Inlet.

Increased shipping traffic is another concern we will address. We have committed to reducing the maximum number of ships in phase two to 168, rather than the previously proposed 176. Should phase two be approved, shipping will be increased gradually over four years and monitoring will be conducted with Inuit to ensure that increased shipping is not causing significant impacts. We will halt any further shipping increases if monitoring shows that an environmental threshold has been exceeded, and won’t resume until we have addressed the problem. In addition, we will ban the use of heavy fuel oil by ships in 2022, a full seven years before the Canadian government’s requirement.

We will invest more in communities and in people. We will create 26 new positions in each of Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Iglulik, and Sanirajak, and 28 new positions in Pond Inlet. Twenty of these jobs will be training roles that will be filled every six months. This will result in Baffinland hiring 40 new full-time employees per year, per community, in addition to the monitoring positions mentioned already. We will also build an office and training space in each of these five communities and will begin a “Community Garage” pilot program, first in Sanirajak and expanding to other communities, to provide on-the-job training opportunities while servicing the communities with automotive, snowmobile and all terrain vehicle repairs.

See Inuktitut here.

Brian Penney is the president and CEO of Baffinland Iron Mines Inc. photo courtesy of Baffinland

ᐹᕙᓐᓛᓐᑯᑦ ᑲᑎᙵᓂᐅᔪᓂ ᐃᓚᒋᔭᐅᔪᑦ ᐃᓚᖃᖅᑐᒥ ᐊᐅᓚᑦᑎᔨᒻᒪᕆᒃ ᐳᕋᐃᔭᓐ ᐸᓂᒥ, ᑕᓕᖅᐱᖕᒥ, ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᐊᕙᑎᓕᕆᔨᒃᑯᑦ ᑲᑎᒪᔨᖏᑦᑕ ᐃᓄᓕᒫᓄᑦ ᑐᓵᑎᑕᐅᓂᐅᔪᒥ ᐃᖃᓗᖕᓂ ᐱᓇᓱᐊᕈᓯᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᒥ, ᓄᖅᑲᖅᑎᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑳᕋᑎᒃ ᒪᓕᒃᑐᒥ ᐱᖃᕐᓂᕋᐃᔪᒥ ᓄᕙᒡᔪᐊᕐᓇᖅ–19–ᒥ ᐱᖃᕐᓂᕋᖅᑕᐅᔪᒥ ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᑕᐅᓂᖓᓂ ᐊᖓᔪᖅᑳᖃᕐᕕᖕᒥ.

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