Nunavut Impact Review Board Rejects Baffinland Expansion Proposal | CBC News:

The Nunavut Impact Review Board has advised against allowing the expansion of Baffinland Phase 2 to continue.

In a letter to Federal Minister for Northern Affairs Dan Vandal, Chairman of the Nunavut Impact Review Board Kavik Kalurak said the mine could have “significant negative ecosystem impacts” on marine mammals, fish, caribou and other wildlife, which in turn could harm the Inuit. culture, land use։ food security.

Kalurak’s letter points to “transboundary impacts on marine mammals, fish, and the marine environment outside Nunavut.”

Finally, he noted that these effects “could not be adequately prevented, mitigated or adapted” even if the council had already given Baffinland-certified draft revisions.

The long-awaited recommendation was issued on Friday after a four-year review process that contrasted economic development with environmental protection and traditional hunting sustainability. The complete report is 441 pages.

Baffinland, Qikiqtani Inuit Association և The Nunavut Government all declined to be interviewed until they could review the report.

In a press release, Baffinland CEO Brian Penny said the company was disappointed with the decision.

“Our Phase 2 proposal is based on years of in-depth study, detailed scientific analysis, and significant local support based on years of Inuit consultation with local communities,” Penny said.

“We will ask the federal government to consider all the evidence and input, to approve the second phase application on fair, reasonable terms.”

The decision ultimately rests with Vandal, who previously said he would make the decision within 90 days of the NIRB’s offer.

In 2016, when the same council advised not to allow a gold mine in the Kitikmeot area of ​​Nunavut, then-Federal Minister Carolyn Bennett rejected that offerasking NIRB give the project a second chance.

That was mine Approved next year.

The Mary River mine has been operating on the northern island of Buffin since 2015 and is currently licensed to extract and deliver up to 6 million tonnes of ore a year.

Baffinland has sought to double iron ore deliveries from its Milne Inlet port to 12 million tonnes a year, and to build a 110-kilometer railway to the port.

WATCH |: The Inuit on Buffy Island could decide the fate of the Far North Iron Ore.

Buffett Island Inuit may decide the fate of the Far North Iron Ore

The Canadian mining company Baffinland, which signed an iron ore contract with Inuit in 2014, now wants to double its output, even building a railroad over traditional hunting grounds. For many Inuit people, the idea of ​​jobs is at odds with environmental concerns.

Baffinland has also made a number of promises to nearby communities regarding the expansion process, including jobs, money, environmental monitoring programs, boats, day care centers, training centers, and more.

The company also pledged to gradually increase cargo shipments over four years, starting with Phase 2 approval, and to ban the use of heavy fuel oil in the Canadian Arctic seven years before it was outlawed.

Many of the commitments are related to the $ 1 billion Inuit Definition Agreement Baffinland has signed With Qikiqtani Inuit Association in 2020 due to the expansion process.

However, the QIA chose not to support the expansion, citing a lack of trust between communities and uncertainty as to whether the proposed new mitigation measures would actually work with the larger mining industry.

Too much uncertainty remained

In a press release, NIRB later explained some of the reasons why it decided to reject the offer with the longest and most comprehensive review ever.

In particular, the council noted that “despite the best efforts of all parties, the council was not confident that the proposed measures would limit or prevent these negative effects.”

In addition to its financial commitments, Baffinland has promised a number of mitigating measures to address environmental concerns, most of which concern the environment.

The Board concluded that the assessed proposal could not be implemented in a way that would protect the ecosystem integrity of Nunavut, which would protect Nunavut and the existing future well-being of the people of Canada և in general. “, – says the NIRB news release.

The council also listed six areas of uncertainty raised during the public hearings, including whether Baffinland accurately conveyed the impact of the current action on what the communities were actually experiencing.

The NIRB cited testimonies from Inuit’s community organizations who believed that Baffinland և regulators “did not consider it meaningful to apply the knowledge and experience of the Inuit to resolve this uncertainty.”

The council heard how there were gaps in everything the Inuit lived through the mine’s backyard, how Baffinland responded to those concerns, if at all.

The Board noted in particular the problem of dust around the mine և Milne Inlet port, as well as changes in the population of vessels and seals after the opening of the mine along the shipping lanes.

“The Inuit knowledge passed on to the board by Pond Inlet knowledge holders shows that these effects change their ability / willingness to camp, fish, hunt, and pick berries in areas affected by red dust as time changes.” Location և Levels: “The efforts required for the Narval և seal harvest,” the statement said.

“Communities have noted that such changes threaten food security and create cultural losses for which communities cannot be compensated. Citing community concerns about these potentially negative consequences, Inuit organizations ությունը most of the community interveners did not support the proposal. »:

The issue of iron dust levels near Baffinland և Mill Inlet Harbor has been a recurring concern for Inuit. In February 2021, CBC News reported that dust was so prevalent during the Millet Inlet trip that snowmobiles formed red icicles at the base. Baffinland has tried to contain dust levels at the port and has promised additional dust mitigation measures under the Inuit Definition Agreement. (Nick Murray / CBC News)

Economic impacts

In its news release, the board also acknowledged the loss of economic benefits promised in Phase 2, including $ 2.4 billion in royalties, as well as the potential for the mine’s future to be jeopardized without expansion.

Many residents of the affected communities felt that the potential positive socio-economic benefits of the proposal focused on financial benefits, while the negative socio-economic impacts focused on land use, harvest, culture and food security, which could not be. “He was compensated with money,” NIRB said.

“Depending on a number of factors, including education, training, the labor market and demographics, some of which are beyond the control of supporters, it remains unclear whether the full range of benefits offered can be provided, and the question remains as to how much.” On the employment of Inuit contracts, which can be implemented in the second stage. “

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