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Arctic Canadian mayor worried about mine’s shipping route

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Hearings are scheduled to begin Tuesday in the Arctic Canadian community of Clyde River into Baffinland’s Mary River mine project.

The Nunavut Planning Commission is looking into Baffinland’s proposal to ship iron ore through Milne Inlet, on the east coast of Baffin Island in Canada’s eastern Arctic.

That plan is meant to be a short-term way to generate revenue until a larger port is built at Steensby Inlet in the Foxe Basin.

Jerry Natanine plans to speak at the hearings. He was elected mayor of Clyde River in December.

Natanine says people in the hamlet are in favor of the mine project. Nearly a dozen people from Clyde River are already working at the Mary River site.

But there are concerns about the risk of an accident or spill in adjacent waters.

“When they were going to go through Steensby, they did all kinds of environmental testing on walrus, baseline data, and all that kind of stuff in Steensby,” Natanine says. “But they haven’t done that in Milne Inlet.”

Natanine says he wants to hear more from Baffinland tonight about what would happen if iron ore sank into the sea off the Baffin coast, and how the company will protect the environment.

People are also worried about the prospect of dust from the mine blowing into the community, he says.

Natanine says he doesn’t expect a huge turnout. He says Baffinland has been doing “good public meetings and information sessions,” so people already know what some of the company’s answers are.

The hearings move Wednesday to Grise Fiord and Resolute, then on to Arctic Bay on Thursday and Pond Inlet on Friday.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.