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Baffinland final hearings underway
Week two scheduled to begin Monday in Iglulik and wrap up Saturday in Pond Inlet for Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.'s proposed Mary River iron mine, railway, and deep sea port

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 23, 2012

The final hearings for the proposed Baffin Island Mary River iron mine, railway, and deep sea port, are now underway, and scheduled to continue this week in Iglulik.

NNSL photo/graphic

A sealift arrives at the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation Mary River iron project at Milne Inlet. The final hearings for the project are now underway. - photo courtesy of Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation

ArcelorMittal's Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. -- the proponent of the Mary River project -- is to present and take questions in the hamlet today after the hearings scheduled for Iqaluit wrapped up July 20.

"They're going very well, very well attended," said Gregory Missal, Baffinland vice-president of corporate affairs, noting that more than 100 people were in attendance at the first week of hearings, including company representatives, regulators and community representatives brought by the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

The first two days of the proceedings stretched to as late as 9 p.m. at the Cadet Hall in Iqaluit.

"Today will be another day like that, we have lots of material to cover," Missal said. "There's a lot of material that needs to be covered but we're slowly getting through all the presentations, and there's questions and answers that go along with the presentations, so it takes some time, but we're progressing."

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was among the intervenors at the hearings in Iqaluit and highlighted concerns about marine mammal mortalities that could result from the transportation of the project's iron ore.

Hearings taking place this week in Iglulik are open to the public and will include presentations presentations by intervenors including Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the Government of Nunavut and Environment Canada.

Major project components being addressed by the environmental assessment include the mine at Mary River, railway transportatioin of iron ore from the mine site to a proposed Steensby Inlet deep sea port, operation of open water shipping at Milne Inlet, year-round marine shipping, air traffic and ongoing exploration.

Overarching issues stated by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association include project impacts on caribou, Steensby Inlet, marine mammals, shipping and ice breaking, and community-based monitoring.

Shipping and the marine environment, including wildlife, migratory birds, and spill prevention and emergency response, are among Baffinland's presentation topics.

According to Ryan Barry, executive director of the review board, the record is officially closed at the end of the final hearings, which represent a culmination of the board's review.

The board has a period of 45 days following the end of the hearings to come up with its final report for a project certificate.

Baffinland aims to begin construction of the proposed Mary River mine in 2013.

Hearing proceedings are scheduled to continue in Pond Inlet July 26 and wrap up on July 28.

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