Media Centre

NTI Statement Regarding NIRB Adjournment

(December 4, 2019 Iqaluit) Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated’s (NTI) mandate is to protect Inuit rights under the Nunavut Agreement. Inuit have very specific rights to be informed when it comes to resource development in Nunavut. In fact, this is the reason why the Nunavut Agreement was created.

It was a difficult decision, on November 6, 2019, for NTI to introduce the motion to adjourn the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) hearing on phase II of Baffinland Iron Mine Corporation’s Mary River project for a period of 9 months to one year, or such a period as NIRB finds appropriate. To clarify, NTI and Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) recognized that the NIRB already made a ruling that, because of timing issues in this public hearing, the in-person hearing on technical issues would have to continue at a later date, in the near future, contingent on securing federal funding and logistics.

NTI appreciates the manner in which the NIRB has been making efforts to ensure this process is procedurally fair and suitably flexible, in the face of serious procedural challenges to review the relevant information in time provided. This is appropriate because flexibility in the NIRB’s process is required by the Nunavut Agreement and the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act. However, as the technical hearings proceeded, the scope of potential deficiencies became more pronounced and troubling, including the lack of sufficient time for intervenors to fully canvass technical questions and repeated questions about whether sufficient information was available, in time, in Inuktitut. These problems in the process are not the fault of the Board, or intervenors. It is the result of a fundamentally incomplete package of assessment information with an enormous scope of unresolved issues.

NTI recognized that arrangements were made for the community roundtable in Mittimatalik. The Iqaluit hearing only covered a fraction of the technical hearings. Many intervenors had not been able to ask the full scope of their questions even on the limited number of matters, nor did they have the opportunity to make their own technical presentations. The purpose of the Community Roundtable is supposed to be to allow community members to ask questions based on the evidence, which is currently woefully incomplete.

It is in the interests of all parties and the Board to ensure the integrity of a full and proper review, based on engagement with the full scope of available evidence. This must provide a robust and appropriate scope for Inuit communities to truly understand the proposal and its impacts, in order to properly address the appropriate conditions on the project including mitigations. These areas of uncertainty cannot be addressed, nor the gaps in the assessment cured, in the period of the most recent hearing allowing for a two month adjournment of the in-person portion of the public hearing on technical matters.

NTI continues to support the Mary River project. NTI does not oppose the principle of potential mine expansion but is concerned that it must be done in a manner which properly respects the balance between the benefits from such development and the environmental and cultural impacts. That is not possible in the process for this public hearing as it had unfolded over the five days. NTI therefore respectfully requested that the Board adjourn the public hearing, or take such other steps as it considers procedurally appropriate, for a period of 9 months to 1 year, to allow Baffinland to work with the parties to narrow the scope of unresolved and unaddressed concerns.

Page 9 of the Baffinland Iron Mine Corporation response to NTI’s motion summarized it as such, “In this case, it is evident the issue is not whether to grant the adjournment – all parties, including Baffinland, agree that the parties must reconvene the hearing in the future. The issue is instead the appropriate length of time for the adjournment period.”

Following the submissions of parties including Baffinland, NIRB has yet to issue a decision on the dates of the final hearing on phase II of the Mary River project.

For more information, please contact:

Malaya Mikijuk
Assistant Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867) 975-4900 Toll-free: 1-888-646-0006

Qajaaq Ellsworth
Senior Communications Advisor
Office of President Aluki Kotierk
Tel: (867) 975-4900 Toll-free: 1-888-646-0006

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