Inuit organizations are praising the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s (NIRB) decision to not recommend Baffinland proceed with the Phase 2 expansion at Mary River Mine in North Baffin, which took place late Friday afternoon last week.
“We believe this is the right decision for Inuit and the right decision for the affected communities at this time,” Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) president Aluki Kotierk said. Kotierk also said the environmental impact of such an expansion has the potential to cause significant environmental harm to marine wildlife, caribou, vegetation and freshwater in the region.
NTI vice-president, James Eetoolook, said they hope this would be the end for Phase 2, but added “this should not be the end of the road for Baffinland and the Mary River Project”, who still hold an approved project certificate for the mine.
“We are open and committed to working with Baffinland and the affected communities to solve outstanding community concerns such as dust and impacts from Baffinland shipping activities, among other things,” Eetoolook said.
QIA (Qikiqtani Inuit Association) also praised Friday’s decision in a Monday announcement, saying that in the review process they found North Baffin communities were not in support of Phase 2, with serious concerns for its impacts on wildlife and that the proposal did not sufficiently address the impacts such an expansion would have.
“Inuit have said many times that they are not opposed to mining on their lands. But mining on Inuit lands must proceed in a way that Inuit can trust,” QIA president Olayuk Akesuk said.
“NIRB recognized that Inuit have important concerns that the current proposal will negatively affect the land, animals, and Inuit way of life. We look forward to working with Baffinland, the impacted communities, and the federal government to make sure the current project and any future expansion aligns with an Inuit vision of sustainable development.”
The Government of Nunavut announced they are currently undertaking a full review of the NIRB report and recommendation and how NIRB’s decision will impact Nunavummiut and will provide further comments at a later time.