Baffin Island Nunavut - Nearly three years after Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. first proposed its Phase 2 expansion plan for the Mary River iron mine, an updated version of the project will finally start moving through Nunavut's regulatory system.
And more than two years after Bernard Valcourt, then the Conservative minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, exempted the first version of the scheme from the scrutiny of the Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC), the NPC will get to look at it after all.
The planning commission, in a public notice issued 31 Aug 2017, now seeks comment from governments, organizations, and individuals on an application from Baffinland to change the North Baffin Regional Land Use Plan to allow for a 110 kilometre railway between Mary River and Milne Inlet, and for winter sea lifts during the months of December, January, and February.
(The North Baffin plan is still in legal effect because the planning commission's Nunavut-wide draft land use plan has yet to be approved.)
Interested parties and persons must submit comments before a deadline of 12 noon eastern time, 2 Oct 2017.
To respond to comments, Baffinland has a deadline of 09:00 eastern time, 5 Oct 2017.
Baffinland Iron Mines still want permission to increase iron ore production from 4.2 million tonnes per year to 12 million tonnes per year, to be shipped to an expanded port at Milne Inlet via rail, using a fleet of five locomotives and 176 rail cars.
This increase in production, Baffinland says, is essential for making the project financially viable.
"Baffinland believes strongly that to insulate the Project from extended low price environments and to generate necessary returns to justify continued investments, the Project needs to expand further to a level of 12 Mtpa with a lower cost rail transport to port," the company said in its update.
Baffinland submitted the first version of its Phase 2 proposal in October 2014, but the Nunavut Impact Review Board has yet to do the environmental assessment that's required before government regulators, such as Transport Canada, can issue licences and permits for the railway and expanded shipping plan.
OKthePk Joint Bar Editor: Article abridged.