Baffinland Iron Mines asks court to end hunters blockade

The Mary River mine sits about 150 km south of Pond Inlet, Nunavut. (Image courtesy of Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation.)

Canada’s Baffinland Iron Mines is seeking a court order against a group of Nunavut hunters who have been blocking the Mary River mine’s road and air strip in protest of a proposed expansion of the operation.

Hunters from Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet set up the blockade last Thursday, after travelling two days by snowmobile to get to the company’s iron ore mine, located in the Mary River area of Baffin Island.

The company says the siege has forced it to stop most of the mine’s operations and to ground all flights, including those carrying food and supplies. 

Baffinland President and CEO Brian Penney said there currently are 700 people working at the mine, many of whom have been on site for 22 days.

“Baffinland respects the right to peaceful protest, however Baffinland cannot allow any activity to continue that causes a safety concern to any of the people on site,” it said in the statement.

A hearing on the requested injunction that was set for today was adjourned to Saturday. 

The blockades began while the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s (NIRB) Public Hearing process on the Phase 2 Development Proposal was underway in Iqaluit and Pond Inlet.

The process is still ongoing and the NIRB has not issued any recommendations regarding the proposed expansion, which seeks to double mine production to 12 million tonnes of iron ore a year. It also includes building a 110-km railway to take the ore to the sea. 

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