Ottawa says no to separate Nunavik review of Mary River
NIRB already looking at transboundary impacts, Duncan says
John Duncan, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, has rejected a demand from the Makivvik Corp. that the Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board conduct a separate environmental review of the Mary River project.
Duncan communicated the decision in an Aug. 8 letter to Makivvik president Jobie Tukkiapik.
This past June, Tukkiapik asked Duncan to authorize an environmental review by the Nunavik marine board, citing the potential damage that huge Mary River ore vessels could inflict on Nunavik’s marine environment when they pass through Hudson Strait.
Putulik Papigatuk, the chair of the Nunavik marine board, also requested a separate Nunavik environmental review this past June.
The Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. has asked Fednav, a Montreal-based shipping company, to supply a fleet of between 10 an 17 ice-breaking ore carriers that would operate 12 months of the year.
The huge 190,000-tonne ships, likely to cost about $200 million each, would be about 310 metres long, roughly equal to three football fields laid end-to-end, with a breadth of 51 metres.
Many times larger than any vessel ever to ply Canadian Arctic waters, these vessels would be capable of cutting through 1.7 metre-thick sea ice and would move at a speed of about six knots, or 11 kilometres an hour.
The vessels would sail from Steensby Inlet through Foxe Basin and Hudson Strait to ports in Europe.
“Makivvik 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,” Adamie Delisle Alaku, the executive assistant to Makivik’s vice president for renewable resources, said July 18 at a NIRB public hearing in Iqaluit.
At that meeting, Alaku asked for NIRB’s help in facilitating a Nunavik review.
Also on July 18, another Makivvik official, Gregor Gilbert, said the huge vessels that Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. proposes using “should avoid Hudson Strait altogether.”
But Duncan said the NIRB has already been asked to consider transboundary impacts in its review of the Mary River project and has held meetings in seven Nunavik communities that could potentially be affected by Baffinland’s ore carriers.
He also said the Nunavik marine board and the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission have been included in the distribution list for information on the project.
“It is for these reasons that the Government of Canada does not consent to your request for a review of Baffinland’s Mary River project by the Nunavik Marine Region Impact Review Board…,” Duncan said in his letter.
This past July 4, prior to the start of NIRB’s public hearings on the Mary River project, Michael Wernick, the deputy minister of AAND, urged Makivvik to use the NIRB process “to the fullest potential.”
“It will be critical for you to continue to share your views on the Mary River Project with the Nunavut Impact Review Board so that they can be duly considered,” Wernick said.