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Baffinland’s CEO Brian Penney shakes hands with PJ Akeeagok, the president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. (David Gunn/CBC) The federal government has approved Baffinland increasing its iron ore production against the advice of the Nunavut impact review board [NIRB].

In its recommendation to the federal ministers, who have final say on the file, the review board said it was concerned about the environmental impacts of hauling more ore from the Mary River mine to Milne Inlet.

It said there was not enough information about how the mine would manage marine protection with the increase in ships or the dust produced by more road traffic.

However, after the impact review board gave its advice at the end of August, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association [QIA] wrote a letter to Northern Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc supporting Baffinland.

The letter was also signed by the Pond Inlet Hamlet and Hunters and Trappers Organization.

"This letter conveys our position that the 2018 production increase application and its associated impacts, monitoring programs and mitigation measures are reasonable particularly when considered in light of the QIA/BIM project stabilization approach," it said. More money to Inuit

The stabilization approach is part of the renegotiated terms of the Inuit Impact Benefit agreement between QIA and the mine, signed Wednesday. Board members of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association stand with representatives of Baffinland before the signing of the renegotiated IIBA. (Sara Frizzell/CBC) In the benefits agreement, Baffinland promises to pay out at least $5 million a year to QIA either in advanced payments or as a royalty percentage of production starting in 2019.

It also promised $10 million to design and build a training centre in Pond Inlet and to increase the Inuit training budget to $2.25 million annually starting this year.

Every three years Baffinland will purchase a research vessel and give it to one of the surrounding communities, with the idea that in 12 years, Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Igloolik and Hall Beach will each have one. A vessel will cost around $300,000.

Baffinland also put money into environmental monitoring, and pay for gas for Inuit to get around or for Inuit harvesters should wildlife loss occur because of the mine. Balancing economic benefits, environment concerns

QIA’s president PJ Akeeagok said these large monetary commitments don’t come around very often, so it was comfortable with the production increase.

"We felt those trade-offs, I wouldn’t call them trade-offs, but they’re enablers for the community to feel confident about," Akeeagok said.

"Topics such as dust and marine mammals now have heightened monitoring and mitigation measures which the company had not previously committed to despite years of requests to do so," a QIA press release said of the agreement. Baffinland’s chief operating officer Brian Penney said the mine is committed to monitoring the impacts of dust and shipping on the environment. ​

Baffinland’s chief operating officer Brian Penney said the mine is committed to mitigating negative effects of the increase.

"With the dust as an example, in the last three years we’ve increased our production significantly year on year and and every single year, with more trucks on the road, we’ve decreased our dust," he said.

There is a dedicated road maintenance crew and the increased road traffic will take place when the road is frozen, so no dust, he said.The shipping season is also shorter, with more ships in a shorter amount of time — all of which must slow down entering the inlet.This year there will be 11 more ships, bringing the total extracted ore for 2018 to five million tonnes. Penney says he hopes to ship out six million tonnes of ore next year. Ministers weigh economics more than […]

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