Minister of Northern Affairs Daniel Vandal has extended the timeline for making a decision on Baffinland’s phase two expansion proposal by 90 days on July 11, according to a letter from the department addressed to the president of Baffinland Iron Mines, Brian Penney.

The rationale for this is Baffinland’s additional proposal made in late May to increase shipping out of Mary River Mine, back to six million tonnes a year. At the end of 2021, the shipping limit reverted back to 4.2 million tonnes.

“This extension will provide Inuit and others time to focus their efforts on the current production increase proposal renewal, especially given the limited capacity of some groups during the summer months, when many Inuit are on the land,” wrote Vandal.

In May, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended against the phase two expansion proposal, with NIRB chairperson Kaviq Kaluraq saying that it has “potential significant adverse effects” that can’t be “adequately prevented, mitigated or adaptive managed” under the current Baffinland proposal.

This came at the end of a long, multi-year process that saw multiple community consultations in North Qikiqtani, as well as input from government organizations, community groups, regulators and non-governmental organizations.

Vandal’s letter to the Baffinland president continues, “I would like to assure you that the Government of Canada is committed to meeting its legislated timelines. The responsible minister and I will endeavour to make a final decision on this project proposal as soon as practicable, especially given the importance of a predictable regulatory process for investors.”

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