Mary River Going Back to Review Stage

Mary River Going Back to Review Stage

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Monday, April 15, 2013

MITTIMATALIK/POND INLET

There will be feelings of deja vu later this year as Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation returns to Nunavut regulators over an amendment to the company's Mary River project.

The $4-billion open pit iron mine project -- including a 149-kilometre railway to transport ore to a port at Steensby Inlet for year-round shipping to markets in Europe -- received its project certificate last December and the green light from the federal government to proceed, after a lengthy environmental review process.

In January, the current global financial environment prompted Baffinland to request approval of what it called an early revenue phase for the Mary River project, which would allow the company to reach production and make money sooner.

The plan, which would begin iron ore production with 3.5 million tonnes per year, down from the originally planned production of 18 million tonnes per year, involves transporting ore from the mine, located about 160 km south of Pond Inlet, to a port at Milne Inlet over a Milne Inlet tote road. Ore would be stockpiled at the Milne port and shipped overseas only during open water season.

"It's almost impossible for that type of work to be done without it going through some type of a review," said Gregory Missal, Baffinland vice-president of corporate affairs, noting that the company was not surprised that the early revenue phase was sent to formal review.

"We were fully expecting that," he said.

Because the early revenue phase was not included in the final environmental impact statement reviewed for the original project certificate, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Minister Bernard Valcourt confirmed on March 28 that it will go before the Nunavut Impact Review Board for formal reconsideration.

"I recognize this is a busy time for the board, given the number of projects currently undergoing a Part 5 review. I trust that the board will make best efforts to ensure that the reconsideration of Project Certificate No. 005 is expeditious and thorough," stated Valcourt in a letter to the chair of the review board.

Baffinland plans to submit the amendment application for the early revenue phase at the end of June, giving the company about a year to get through the review process before the targeted start to get the phase going, Missal said.

"I think what was really encouraging in the minister's letter back was that he made it pretty clear in there that he wanted to see an expeditious review," Missal said.

The company already has necessary permits in place to conduct its 2013 Mary River program, which includes doing upgrades on the Milne Inlet tote road to be used in the early revenue phase.

The company hopes to get production started at Mary River in 2015.

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20 April 2013

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