Hearing on Baffinland’s expansion plans to resume April 12

The hearing will run from April 12 to 21 at Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit Hotel.

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A contentious public hearing on the proposed expansion of the Mary River iron mine will resume April 12 in Iqaluit and run until April 21, the Nunavut Impact Review Board said Feb 12. (Baffinland via Nunatsiaq News)

A contentious public hearing on the proposed expansion of the Mary River iron mine will resume April 12 and run until April 21, the Nunavut Impact Review Board says.

The board considered Bafflinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed expansion of the mine southwest of Pond Inlet during a public hearing from Jan. 25 to Feb. 6. Near the end of that two-week period, the board decided to extend the hearing.

The board announced the date for the hearing’s continuation Feb. 12, in what it calls a “procedural direction” document that also includes a draft agenda. The board said it will hold the gathering at the Aqsarniit Hotel and Conference Centre in Iqaluit.

The board is responsible for assessing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of development projects and advising the federal and territorial governments on whether they should go ahead.

Baffinland wants to build a 110-kilometer railroad that would carry up to 12 million tonnes of iron ore each year to a port at Milne Inlet, as well accommodate up to 176 ship transit per year. Opponents of the expansion say it will affect caribou in the area and narwhal in the waters around the port.

The board has invited five representatives from each of the seven communities of the North Baffin region: Pond Inlet, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord.

In addition, the board said it wants to ensure the community representatives come from a “broad demographic,” including women, elders, youth, hunters and trappers organizations, and hamlets.

Starting April 12, the board will try to complete the technical session than ran a week behind schedule.

It hopes that work can be done in time for a community roundtable to start April 16 and then run until April 21.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the hearing will be available to the public by teleconference and Zoom, but in-person attendance at the Iqaluit venue will be by invitation only, the board said.

The board is still working on a way to connect Pond Inlet residents and will state how they’ll do that in a future announcement that will include a final agenda.