Baffinland Iron Mines’ Mary River iron ore plant on Baffin Island’s northern tip, in Canada’s Nunavut territory, is lobbying the federal government to support the company’s request for a shipping limit expansion.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) denied Baffinland’s request to more than double output to 12 million tons per year and eventually reach 30 million tons per year on environmental grounds on May 13 after four years of consultations and deliberations.
The main reason for the decision was “severe detrimental ecosystemic consequences” on marine mammals such as narwhals, fish, caribou, and other wildlife, which could harm Inuit culture.
Allowing the expansion, according to the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 793 and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), would be the only option to save hundreds of skilled employees’ employment, many of whom live in Nunavut.
Baffinland, in which steel giant ArcelorMittal owns a 28 percent share, asked Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal for an emergency order last week to increase its 2022 shipping limit from 4.2 million tons to six million tons as a stopgap solution.
If the interim solution is not granted, the mining company says it will have to stop operations at Mary River after production hits 4.2 million tons for the rest of the year. According to the corporation, this will effect around 1,300 full-time employees and more than 400 contract workers.