Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic July 20, 2012 - 7:09 am

Makivik demands changes to Baffinland’s Mary River shipping route

“Shipping should avoid Hudson Strait altogether”

DAVID MURPHY

Makivik Corp. is not happy with Baffinland Iron Mine Corp.’s final environmental impact statement on the proposed Mary River iron-ore mining project, and believes the project has potential to harm wildlife in Nunavik, Makivik representatives told the Nunavut Impact Review Board

And they repeated their request that a new, separate review of the project should be done by the Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board.

John Duncan, the federal aboriginal affairs minister, has to yet to decide on that request, but in a recent letter he urged Makivik to participate fully in the NIRB process, where Makivik has intervenor status.

The executive assistant to the vice president for renewable resources, Adamie Delisle Alaku, asked NIRB on July 18 to step in and help facilitate a separate review by the Nunavik board.

“Makivik believes components of the Mary River Project will have significant adverse effects on Nunavik,” said Alaku.

He also said Makivik wants Baffinland to “undertake a more extensive analysis of the shipping route in Hudson Strait.”

The shipping route will run just north of Nunavik if the project goes ahead, but “major concerns” still exist with the current route, Makivik reps said.

“Makivik believes that the proposed shipping route will have to be modified significantly due to ice conditions, tides, currents, other marine vessels, and marine mammal avoidance,” Alaku said, adding some whale populations might suffer “irreparable harm.”

“Many marine mammals and other wildlife species in Hudson Strait are migratory or have large home ranges,” said Alaku.

“Impacts on these species that occur within the Nunavut settlement area will also impact on the harvesting by Nunavik Inuit,” he said.

“Shipping should avoid Hudson Strait altogether,” said Makivik’s director of wildlife management, Gregor Gilbert.

Glibert acknowledged that, although the huge icebreaking ore-carriers will likely avoid Nunavik waters, the boats may still cross this boundary and disrupt northern Quebec’s marine ecosystem.

Makivik also believes Baffinland has underestimated environmental impacts such as underwater ship noise from icebreaking, the probability of collisions with marine mammals, and oil spills. 

Representatives from Baffinland listed a few suggestions in response to Makivik’s complaints, including changing the shipping route to avoid a northern Nunavik island.

But Alaku said there are “larger concerns in other regions other than the shipping route.”

Alaku said Baffinland did not use Inuit knowledge and did not involve Nunavik communities prior to drafting the environmental impact statement.

Baffinland, however, said they made efforts to contact Nunavik for that purpose.

The last final hearing in Iqaluit for NIRB’s review of Baffinland’s Mary River project is set to start at 9 a.m. July 20, when a community roundtable session will be held.

After this, the NIRB hearings will move to Igloolik between July 23 and July 25, and then Pond Inlet from July 26 to 28.

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