IMPORTANT BAFFINLAND NEWS - End of technical meetings in Iqaluit

DID News Alert May 14, 2012. This past week, Iqaluit was the stage for Baffinland’s three-day technical meetings regarding the Mary River iron mine and it’s potential impacts. The meetings only reinforced the belief that more time is needed to discuss the key issues such as the location of the Steensby Inlet port, and the environmental impacts of a railway and a year-round shipping route. The NIRB stated that these issues will be discussed in further detail at the final community hearings in July. Some of the things the NIRB promised to bring up in the July hearing include: alternatives to the proposed railroad and shipping route, wildlife impacts from these routes (caribou and walrus specifically), water pollution from mining and quarrying activities, ability to protect significant archaeological sites like the 100 inuksuit path alongside the proposed railroad, risks related to the storage of bulk fuel, impact on marine mammals and traditional hunting activities from the year-round shipping route, and socio-economic impacts on the nearby communities, specifically related to long-term stable employment, traditional land use, food security, and services to meet future needs.

It seems like a lot to talk about in 11 days (5 in Iqaluit, 3 in Igloolik, 3 in Pond Inlet), considering how complicated these issues are. After the mixed results of last week’s technical meetings, and Baffinland’s historical desire to hurry through the hearings as quickly as possible (see here, it is hard to believe that these very important and complex issues will be dealt with satisfactorily in such a short period of time.

For a $6 billon dollar project that could potentially run for 100 years, and permanently re-shape the face of Canada’s arctic, three days of discussion in each of the future affected communities seems far from adequate.

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