Baffinland gives NIRB final EIS for Mary River
Nunavut Impact Review Board now reviewing huge environmental document
CAMBRIDGE BAY — On Feb. 13, Erik Madsen of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. personally delivered boxes loaded with his company’s huge final environmental impact statement for the Mary River iron mine project to the Nunavut Impact Review Board office in Cambridge Bay.
The final EIS contains responses to the 356 points, part of the pre-hearing decision’s “commitment list,” that the company had to address in its final environmental impact statement.
It’s not a completely new EIS, but rather integrates the answers to the points into the original 5,000-plus-page document, said Madsen, who is Baffinland’s vice-president of sustainable development, health, safety and environment.
The final EIS also contains a land lease application for Steensby Inlet, a quarry permit application for Steensby Inlet and applications for three additional quarries located along the future railway.
Now the NIRB will review the document for a two-week period and respond to Baffinland, said Kofi Boa-Antwi, the NIRB’s technical advisor.
If accepted, the revised EIS will then be released to the public — and many other interested parties.
NIRB will then move to schedule a final hearing on the project.
To smooth the final hearing process, the NIRB has encouraged Baffinland to hold community information sessions in all “potentially affected” communities before the final hearing period starts.
The NIRB has also encouraged Baffinland and the Government of Nunavut to meet with city and hamlet councils and social service providers in those communities before the final hearing.
And the review board has suggested the QIA hold meetings with “potentially affected Inuit beneficiaries,” including Inuit businesses and those providing services to Inuit, to discuss the process and progress on the Inuit impact and benefit agreement negotiations.
Baffinland had hoped to receive all licences and permits, including approval by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister John Duncan, by the third quarter of 2102.
But after stakeholders, including a long list of government agencies, filed questions and objections to its pre-development plan, Baffinland decided to withdraw its application for approval and back away from its 2012 pre-development plan.
At the same time, Baffinland insists it’s still fully committed to the Mary River project — and its new requests to the NIRB for quarry applications show “a scaled down scope of work” will take place in 2012.
Baffinland, a private company now under the control of ArcelorMittal, the European steel-making giant, and a private investment firm, Iron Ore Holdings LP, wants to see the Mary River mine churn out 21 million tonnes of iron ore a year, which will then be shipped out year-round to markets in Europe and Asia for at least 20 years.