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Baffinland's Award-Winning Community & Economic Development Campaign

Mining in extreme locations is never easy, and it doesnt get much more extreme than Baffinland Iron Mines Corps Mary River Project – existing in o...

|May 2|magazine8 min read

Mining in extreme locations is never easy, and it doesn’t get much more extreme than Baffinland Iron Mines Corp’s Mary River Project – existing in one of the most isolated northern areas in the world, the open pit mine on the north side of Baffin Island is marked by challenges like -30°C (-22°F) temperatures and 24-hour darkness throughout the winter.

But instead of doing the bare minimum necessary to accomplish its mining goals, Baffinland has transformed its Mary River Project into a site of impressive opportunity. That effort has not gone unnoticed – this week at the 2014 Nunavut Mining Symposium Gala Dinner, Baffinland received the prestigious Murray Pyke Award recognizing the mining company for its dedication to economic and social community development within the region.

“Baffinland has been a solid player on Nunavut’s mining scene for many years,” said Bernie MacIsaac, co-chair of the Nunavut Mining Symposium Society, upon presenting the award to Baffinland. “The recent signing of the IIBA agreement with QIA certainly shows they have made the grade and we are looking forward to hearing more good news out of them.”

That Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement, signed in September of 2013, solidified Baffinland’s partnership with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) and made the excavation of the Mary River Project possible. That makes it a beneficial deal for Baffinland, considering that the mine is expected to return 3.5 million tons of iron ore per year. But it’s of great benefit to the Qikiqtani community as well with promise to source workers from the local community and a budget to support the community in various ways from education to the promotion of local business growth:

As part of the IIBA, an implementation budget will be created with several funds, which includes:

- Business capacity and start-up fund — $250,000 per year paid by BIMC until commercial production begins;

- Ilagiiktunut Nunalinnullu Pivalliajutisait Kiinaujat Fund (a fund to offset negative social or cultural impacts created by the project and to help distribute benefits) — $750,000 per year paid by BIMC and QIA equally for the first six years;

- Education and training fund — $1 million for the first two years the IIBA is in effect, paid by BIMC;

- Scholarship fund — $25,000 each year paid by BIMC;

- Workplace orientation programs; and,

- Money to pay the costs associated with implementation of any rights, obligation or requirements of the IIBA.

At the time of its signing, QIA representatives called it a “historic moment,” as the biggest IIBA to ever come to Nunavut and one filled with unprecedented promise for employment and contract award issuance opportunities for Nunavut’s native Qikiqtani community.

“The Mary River Project has the ability to greatly contribute to the development of infrastructure, skills training, and employment and business opportunities for the people of Nunavut,” said Baffinland President and CEO Tom Paddon. “The success of the project, however, relies on the cooperation of all stakeholders, working together to achieve mutual benefits from the ground up.”