After a week of blockading an airstrip and road to an iron mine on north Baffin Island, a small group of Inuit protesters packed up their tents Feb. 11, agreeing to give dialogue with authorities a chance after the mining company won an injunction ordering them to disband their encampment. The self-declared Nuluujaat Land Guardians began blocking access to Baffinland Iron Mines Corp’s Mary River mine on Feb. 4. The group of seven men travelled by snowmobile from the communities of Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay, journeys of approximately 12 hours and 36 hours, respectively. The protesters oppose a proposal for expansion that would see the mine’s output of iron ore double to 12 million metric tons per year, as well as construction of a 110-kilometer railway to the facility. The Land Guardians say the expansion would drive caribou away and harm other wildlife in the area, including narwhal, upon which their communities depend for subsistence.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board recently held public hearings about the expansion proposal in Pond Inlet. The village’s Mayor Joshua Arreak has proposed a plan to end the blockade and open a dialogue between the protesters, community leaders, Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq and Inuit organizations.
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp says the weeklong blockade cost the company a total exceeding $14 million, based on information in documents filed in court. (Mining.com, Nunatsiaq News, Nunatsiaq News, Nunatsiaq News)