Review board reschedules hearing on Nunavut mine expansion

A public hearing on the proposed Mary River mine expansion is set to resume in November.

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The hearing into Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed expansion is scheduled to continue Nov. 1 to 6, announced the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s executive director, Karen Costello on July 30. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)

The Nunavut Impact Review Board’s hearing into Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s expansion proposal has been rescheduled for six days in November.

The Ontario-based mining company wants to build a 110-kilometer railway from its Mary River mine to Milne Inlet, double its iron ore shipments through the Tallurutiup Imanga marine conservation area and add another dock at its port.

Opponents of the expansion say it will negatively affect caribou in the area and narwhal in the waters around the port.

Nunavut’s review board is responsible for making recommendations to the federal northern affairs minister about whether the project should be allowed to proceed or not.

This will be the board’s fourth try at completing the hearing, which originally began in November 2019 and, most recently, was postponed on April 14 due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Iqaluit.

The hearing had six days left when it was postponed: one more day for technical sessions — which is when Baffinland and other participating groups can ask each other questions — four and a half days for the community round table — which is for the board to hear directly from communities that would be affected by the company’s expansion — and closing remarks.

“Public health directives have eased to the point where the board can begin the planning necessary to resume the extended public hearing proceedings,” read a July 30 letter from the board’s executive director, Karen Costello.

After weighing its option, Costello said, the board decided to hold the hearing in Iqaluit with no changes to the schedule from Nov. 1 to 6.

The board is inviting five community members from Pond Inlet, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord as representatives for the hearing. Those who attended the April hearing will be given preference to come back, Costello said.

And like last time, there will be a hub set up in Pond Inlet so community members can participate through a Zoom link, Costello said.

As it’s scheduled right now, Baffinland will submit its final statements on Dec. 6.