Mary River stockpiles its first load of Nunavut iron ore at Milne Inlet

"We are now truly a mining company"


Workers at Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River iron project transported the mine’s first load of iron ore to its port site at Milne Inlet Sept. 8, the company said Sept. 22.

Baffinland says the iron mine project continues on schedule, with plans to ship its first batch of stockpiled product out of a newly-constructed port at Milne Inlet in mid-2015.

“I am extremely pleased to say that we are now truly a mining company; we have drilled, blasted, crushed and transported final iron ore product to the port at Milne,” said Tom Paddon, Baffinland’s president and CEO.

“And we have done this with a record of no ‘lost time injuries’ over a three-year period, a significant achievement particularly when you consider that we are operating in the High Arctic.

“This is an important moment in the North.”

The original Mary River project proposal, which would have seen a railway built from the mine to Steensby Inlet and for year-round shipping of an estimated 18 million tonnes of ore annually, earned its own project certificate from the Nunavut Impact Review Board in December 2012.

But a month later, Baffinland slashed the scope of the project, opting instead for a scaled-down “early revenue phase” that would, in the mine’s early years, focus on shipping smaller amounts of ore each year out of Milne Inlet instead, and only during open water season.

Earlier this year, the NIRB gave the go-ahead to Baffinland’s early revenue phase proposal, which could see up to 4.2 million tonnes of iron ore per year mined, stockpiled and shipped from Milne Inlet to markets in Europe.

Baffinland then got to work on a 100-kilometre tote road to Milne Inlet, the construction of a fixed dock, a large ore stockpile and laydown area, 3,500 tonnes-per-hour ship loaders, a camp expansion to accommodate 60 workers and the extension and relocation of the airstrip to the west of the stockpile.

The iron ore grade at Mary River is estimated at about 67 per cent, one of the highest in the world.

And due to the quality of the ore, no processing is required before shipping it to market, Baffinland has said, reducing overall impact on the environment and keeping production costs low.

“After more than 50 years of talk about developing Mary River, Baffinland has succeeded in this accomplishment,” Paddon said in the release.

“While we still have important work to do that will ensure the efficient transport of product to market, we can rightfully take pride in what our Baffinland team has safely undertaken thus far.”

The Mary River mine is located 160 km southwest of Pond Inlet.