The Nunavut Influence Evaluate board has advisable Baffinland’s Part 2 enlargement not be allowed to proceed.
In a letter to Dan Vandal, the federal northern affairs minister, Nunavut Influence Evaluate Board chair Kaviq Kaluraq mentioned the mine has the potential for “vital hostile ecosystemic results” on marine mammals, fish, caribou and different wildlife, which in flip may hurt Inuit tradition, land use and meals safety.
Kaluraq’s letter additionally pointed to the potential for “transboundary results on marine mammals and fish and the marine atmosphere exterior of the Nunavut Settlement Space.”
Lastly, she famous these results “can’t be adequately prevented, mitigated or adaptively managed,” even with the proporsed revisions to the challenge certificated the board has already issued to Baffinland.
The long-awaited advice was launched on Friday, after a four-year evaluate course of that pitted financial improvement towards environmental protections and the sustainability of conventional searching. The complete report is 441 pages.
Baffinland, the Qikiqtani Inuit Affiliation and the federal government of Nunavut all declined interviews till they’ll evaluate the report.
In a information launch, Baffinland CEO Brian Penney mentioned the corporate was disillusioned with the choice.
“Our Part 2 proposal relies on years of in-depth examine and detailed scientific evaluation, and has appreciable native help primarily based on years of session with Inuit and native communities,” Penney mentioned.
“We might be asking the federal authorities to think about the entire proof and enter and to approve the Part 2 software with honest and affordable situations.”
The choice finally rests with Vandal, who has beforehand mentioned he’ll make a decision inside 90 days of NIRB’s advice.
In 2016, when the identical board advisable a gold mine in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot area not be allowed to go forward, then-federal minister Carolyn Bennett rejected that recommendation, asking NIRB to give the project a second chance.
That mine was given approval the following year.
The Mary River mine has been working on north Baffin Island since 2015 and is presently allowed to extract and ship as much as six million tonnes of ore per yr.
Baffinland had requested to double its transport of iron ore from its Milne Inlet port to 12 million tonnes a yr, and construct a 110-kilometre railway to the port.
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Baffinland additionally made a myriad of guarantees to close by communities in reference to the enlargement continuing, together with jobs, cash, environmental monitoring packages, boats, daycares, coaching centres and extra.
The corporate additionally dedicated to steadily rising transport over 4 years from when Part 2 is authorised, and banning the usage of heavy gas oil seven years earlier than it is to be outlawed in Canada’s Arctic.
Lots of the commitments are tied to a $1 billion Inuit Certainty Settlement Baffinland signed with the Qikiqtani Inuit Affiliation in 2020, contingent on the enlargement continuing.
Nonetheless, QIA selected to not help the enlargement, citing an absence of belief amongst communities, and uncertainty about whether or not new proposed mitigation measures will truly work with a bigger mining operation.
Too many uncertainties remained
In a information launch, NIRB additional defined a few of the concerns on why it selected to reject the proposal, in its longest and most-extensive evaluate ever.
Specifically, the board mentioned “regardless of one of the best effort of all of the events, the board was not assured that the measures proposed would restrict or forestall these unfavorable results.”
Along with monetary commitments, Baffinland had promised many mitigation measures to deal with the considerations heard all through the general public hearings, nearly all of which have been environmental-related.
I might be taking time to evaluate the report together with federal officers. A call might be taken following applicable due diligence and complete evaluation, together with whether or not the responsibility to seek the advice of has been met or not.
“The board has concluded that the proposal as assessed can’t be carried out in a fashion that can shield the ecosystemic integrity of Nunavut and that can shield and promote the prevailing and future well-being of the residents and communities of Nunavut, and Canada extra usually,” NIRB’s information launch learn.
The board additionally listed six areas of uncertainty which had been raised throughout the public hearings, together with whether or not Baffinland was precisely conveying the results of the present operation versus what communities have been truly experiencing.
NIRB cited testimony from Inuit and community-based organizations which felt Baffinland and regulatory businesses “had not meaningfully thought-about and utilized Inuit information and expertise to deal with this uncertainty.”
The board additionally heard how there have been gaps between what Inuit have been experiencing when it comes to the results of the mine, and the way Baffinland was responding to these considerations, if in any respect.
Specifically the board pointed to the difficulty of mud unfold across the mine and the Milne Inlet port, and the modifications in narwhal and seal populations alongside transport routes for the reason that mine opened.
“Inuit information shared with the board from information holders in Pond Inlet, indicated that these results are altering their potential/willingness to camp, fish, hunt and berry decide within the areas impacted by crimson mud and are additionally altering the timing, location and ranges of effort required to reap narwhals and seals,” the information launch learn.
“Communities indicated that such modifications are threatening meals safety and creating cultural losses for which communities can’t be compensated. Citing the considerations of communities with regard to those potential unfavorable results, Inuit organizations and nearly all of the community-based Intervenors didn’t help the proposal.”
In its information launch, the board additionally acknowledged the lack of financial advantages Part 2 would have promised, together with $2.4 billion in royalties, in addition to the potential for the mine’s future to be in jeopardy with out the enlargement.
“Many residents within the affected communities additionally expressed the view that the potential optimistic socio-economic advantages of the proposal concentrate on monetary advantages, whereas the unfavorable socio-economic results concentrate on results on land use, harvesting, tradition and meals safety that can not be compensated with cash,” NIRB mentioned.
“On account of a number of elements, together with schooling, coaching, labour market and demographics, a few of that are past the management of the proponent, there stays uncertainty concerning whether or not the complete scale of the proposed advantages may be delivered, and questions stay as to the extent of Inuit contracting and Inuit employment that could be delivered by the Part 2.”