North

QIA, NTI team up against Baffinland's request for NPC exemption

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. have sent a letter to federal Minister Bernard Valcourt, urging him not to approve a request from Baffinland Iron Mines for an exemption to the Nunavut Planning Commission's decision on a proposal to ship ore year-round.

Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. to oppose granting an exemption from NPC

A view of Baffinland Iron Mine's camp at Milne Inlet in Nunavut in August 2014. Baffinland is seeking to ship iron ore 10 months of the year, instead of just in the summer months, as it does currently. (Baffinland)

Two Nunavut land claims organizations are teaming up to fight Baffinland Iron Mines' request to have its 10-month-per-year shipping proposal bypass the Nunavut Planning commission.

Baffinland's latest proposal for its Mary River project asks to ship iron ore 10 months of the year from Milne Inlet on North Baffin Island to Europe, something the Nunavut Planning Commission says does not fit into the current land use plan for the area. Currently, the company only ships iron ore during the summer months.

The company has requested to bypass the Planning commission and instead have its project proposal assessed by the Nunavut Impact Review Board, a request Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna endorsed in a letter to federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt in May.

But in their own letter to Valcourt, dated June 8, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association say that granting an exemption and bypassing the role of the Planning Commission is contradictory to the spirit and intent of their land claims.

"Circumventing the purpose and core functions of an Institution of Public Government (IPG) like the NPC would undermine the well-designed regulatory processes under the Nunavut Agreement and set a dangerous precedent," reads the letter, signed by the presidents of both associations.

In the letter, NTI and QIA urge Valcourt to deny Baffinland's request for an exemption and instead work with the Planning commission to help it produce an amendment application as soon as possible.

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