New Baffinland plan submitted

New Baffinland plan submitted

Review process begins again for Mary River Project

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 1, 2013

The Mary River Project is rolling again now that the project's operators have submitted an updated plan for the mine.

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. was awarded a project certificate for the Mary River Project at the end of last year. However, the corporation announced in January its intention to scale back the initial operations of the project.

The review board decided in April to require Baffinland to submit an addendum to Mary River's final environmental impact statement, which would be subject to review.

The document was submitted June 25.

Baffinland states in the document the change will allow communities more time to train people and better situate themselves to take advantage of economic opportunities the project will create.

This observation was shared by Okalik Eegeesiak, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and recently appointed chairperson of Nunasi Corporation.

"I think the changes in the project at this point gives us a bit more time to get Inuit better ready for employment and training," said Eegeesiak, adding the association did not yet have any concerns about the submission. "The scaled down version is OK with Inuit. It's great for Inuit.

"Our technical advisers have been looking at (the addendum) and will be working with the communities once again to get ready for (the Nunavut Impact Review Board public hearings)."

She said most training programs are community based but the association has partnered with Baffinland, as well as other government and Inuit organizations, to create a Work-Ready pilot program, which was offered in late 2012 in Clyde River, Iglulik, and Pond Inlet.

Residents of those communities interested in working at the mine were invited with their families to a two-week program within their communities to learn about the lifestyle of a two-week mine rotation and such topics as budgeting and addictions awareness.

Baffinland submitted the document four days earlier than expected, but it's not likely the early submission will result in early review due to other commitments the board has already made, said Ryan Barry, the board's executive director.

Barry said Mary River's timeline will closely follow the usual review process of a final environmental impact statement, normally the third and final phase of a project's review process.

According to the board's public review guide, it should take approximately 126 days from the addendum's submission to the review board's final report and Barry said this estimation is reasonable.

The new plan delays the four-year construction of a railway and a port at Steensby Inlet. Instead, the corporation will complete minor construction on existing structures, start producing iron ore at 3.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), and ship only during the open water season.

While the change is a significant drop from the proposed production rate of 18 Mtpa and year-round shipping, it will allow Baffinland to generate revenue earlier and wait for a better global financial environment to bring the project to its full scale.

"The Approved Project will be fully executed as infrastructure debt financing becomes available," states Baffinland in the addendum.

"Despite the temporary downturn in global demand for iron ore, the world needs iron ore to continue to build and develop the materials our society uses every day."

The addendum also states that global iron ore demand is expected to increase as countries such as China, India, and other emerging areas continue to grow and develop while the economies of western countries continue to improve.

The addendum estimates engineering of the approved project will begin in 2014, construction will begin in 2015 and the first ore shipment will be sent from Steensby Port in the fourth quarter of 2019.


09 July 2013


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