Environmental assessments have cleared the way for a huge iron ore mine on Baffin Island in Nunavut’s Eastern Arctic and Inuits there are, for the most part, encouraged by the economic impact the mine could have.
As CBC News reports, with the mine comes many jobs.
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association, which owns the land where the mine will be built, is negotiating a benefits agreement for Baffin Inuit and the key priority is jobs.
“We need to train a lot of people to have the opportunity to have a job in the mine site,” said Solomon Awa, project co-ordinator for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
Paul Quassa of Igloolik said he wasn’t surprised by the news of the approval, saying he has known for many years that the Mary River site would eventually be mined.
He said even the elders in his community support it as a way to get the younger generation into the wage economy.
“We’re not relying on the land as much,” he said. “Our children don’t rely on it as much.”
Other leaders are waiting to see what, exactly, the impact of the mine will be.
John Graham, mayor of Iqaluit, said the mine’s potential impact on the city is still not clear. Baffinland has an office in Iqaluit, and work crews heading to the site move in and out of the Iqaluit airport.
“Are lots of people going to move in here, take up residency in Iqaluit and put a further strain on our already strained municipal infrastructure?” said Graham.
“I don’t think we really know the answer to that question.”
When construction is completed, once the permits are in place, the Baffinland mine site will be almost a town of its own, bigger than many Nunavut communities, and with a road, railway and deepwater port of its own.
It will several years before the mine begins produces iron ore.