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Iqaluit, Nunavut, May 16, 2022 – The Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) is encouraged by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) recommendation to the federal government to reject Baffinland’s Phase 2 Proposal to expand the Mary River Mine.
It was evident in the review process that many communities were not in support of the Phase 2 Proposal. The Inuit organizations and communities raised serious concerns about anticipated impacts on narwhal, marine wildlife, and caribou, and how the proposal did not sufficiently address those impacts which will have a profound effect on Inuit harvesting and cultural practices. QIA commends NIRB for the close attention it pays, in the report, to the evidence that Inuit brought to the hearing about what they are already experiencing from the existing mine, and what they understand about the impacts of any expansion.
“Inuit have said many times that they are not opposed to mining on their lands. But mining on Inuit lands must proceed in a way that Inuit can trust. NIRB recognized that Inuit have important concerns that the current proposal will negatively affect the land, animals, and Inuit way of life. We look forward to working with Baffinland, the impacted communities, and the federal government to make sure the current project and any future expansion aligns with an Inuit vision of sustainable development”, said Olayuk Akesuk, President of QIA.
QIA understands that although there are benefits to the Phase 2 Proposal and some hamlets have already expressed support, the NIRB hearing showed key concerns about the proposed expansion that cannot be ignored and have yet to be properly addressed. Mechanisms are needed to ensure that both the current mine and any future expansion respect Inuit knowledge and rights, so that Inuit input and traditional knowledge are taken seriously and result in meaningful changes to the Mary River Project that address Inuit concerns.
QIA is the Designated Inuit Organization for this project. This means that QIA will do everything in its power to ensure that any proposed mine expansion is acceptable to Inuit and respects the need for Inuit oversight and decision-making on issues where Inuit are greatly affected.
The QIA Board looks forward to the next phase of this process and will endeavour to keep Inuit informed on next steps.
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