Arctic Canadian mayor happy with approval of new mine project

CBC.caPeter Ivalu said the project will bring jobs to community

The acting mayor of Igloolik, a predominantly Inuit community in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, said he’s pleased with the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s decision on the Mary River project.

On Friday, the board gave the go-ahead to Baffinland’s proposed iron ore mine. The decision follows an extensive four-year review of the mega-project.

Igloolik is one of the closest communities to both the Mary River site and the proposed port site at Steensby Inlet.

Peter Ivalu said the project will bring jobs and other economic spin-offs to his community.

However, he said he’s happy the board’s decision came with conditions, including a limit on the annual number of ore-carrying ships travelling to and from Steensby Inlet.

“There are other communities, around Kimmirut, Cape Dorset, Makivik marine region, that have serious concerns about the number of ships that will go through there, and this will hopefully quell some of the concerns that those other communities have,” he said.

Conditions range from job training to limits on ship traffic

In all, the board’s report lists 184 separate terms and conditions under which the Baffinland project could proceed.

Baffinland spokesperson Greg Missal said it’s too soon to say what those terms mean for the project.

“Obviously the terms and conditions are important, and it’s something every project has attached to it. They are significant, and we need to have a good look at it. We’ll do that over the coming days and the week ahead, and get a good understanding of where we’re at with this NIRB recommendation,” he said.

Ivalu said he’s also pleased the board recommends regular consultation with affected communities throughout the life of the project.

He says people in Igloolik are still divided over the project.

“It’s about 50-50… there’s still some opposition to the project going ahead.”

Ivalu added many people are concerned about the possible impacts on walrus and caribou.

Many of the other conditions are focused on monitoring the mine’s environmental effects, as well as detailing a series of requirements related to training and hiring..

The NIRB report is now before the federal minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development for final approval.

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