NIRB condition puzzles Duncan and federal ministers
Ministers give Nunavut regulator a week to clear up confusing term
The Nunavut Impact Review Board has until Nov. 27 to clarify an issue in its final report on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.‘s Mary River iron mine project for John Duncan, minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
He and other federal ministers with jurisdiction for authorizing the Baffinland iron mine project to proceed have “nearly completed” their review of the Mary River project report submitted by the NIRB in September, Duncan told the NIRB in a letter sent to its acting chairperson, Elizabeth Copland, dated Nov. 20.
But Duncan said he and the other ministers can’t sign off on their review because they need clarification about a term contained in the NIRB’s 354-page final hearing report.
It’s number 41 of the 184 terms and conditions that Baffinland must observe if the Mary River iron mine project is permitted to go ahead.
Duncan and the ministers of Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada want to understand the meaning behind the condition’s statement that “the proponent shall maintain a minimum 100-metre naturally-vegetated buffer between the high-water mark of any fish-bearing water bodies and any permanent infrastructure.”
If the Mary River project goes ahead, that condition would prohibit the construction of “key infrastructure,” such as the rail line, pump houses, access roads and other necessary worked needed by the mine, Duncan pointed out.
“We recognize that at this stage it is not open to the Board to reconsider the contents of its report,” but if the NIRB chose words that “did not properly manifest intention,” it can restate its decision, Duncan said.
The NIRB’s executive director Ryan Barry said he would provide a response from the board by Nov. 27.
In October, the NIRB also issued a correction to its final hearing report on the iron mine project.