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Science Review of Baffinland’s Mary River Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Central and Arctic Regional Advisory Process

7 March and 19 September 2011
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Chairperson: Kathleen Martin


The Mary River Project is a proposed iron ore mine located at Mary River on North Baffin Island in Nunavut. Construction of the project could commence as early as 2012 and would require about four years to complete. Operations would involve mining high grade iron ore, crushing and screening, rail transport and marine shipping of the ore to market, mostly in Europe. Two port facilities would be constructed, in Milne and Steensby inlets. The port at Steensby Inlet, in northeastern Foxe Basin, would accommodate the cape sized vessels with ice-breaking capabilities designed to transport ore to market. The carriers would transit Foxe Basin and Hudson Strait every two days year round. The Milne Inlet port will not be used to ship ore but will be used mainly during the construction phase of the project. Based on current ore reserves, the mine would operate for 21 years. Duration of the Project, from the start of construction activities to post-closure, is expected to be 33 years.

Since 2005, Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation (Baffinland) has conducted baseline studies which form the basis of their draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mary River Project. These studies cover the terrestrial, freshwater, atmospheric and marine environments, as well as socio‐economic conditions and land use. The Baffinland EIS has been submitted to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) for detailed environmental and socio-economic review. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for conducting a technical review of the EIS. To that end, Ecosystems Management sector within Central and Arctic Region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) requested advice from the Science sector to assist them with reviewing the Baffinland EIS, especially the potential impacts of ice-breaking/shipping activities on marine mammals.


The objectives of the meeting are to provide advice on the following aspects of the Baffinland EIS.

  1. To assess whether the EIS provides sufficient information to assess the impacts of the Mary River Project on marine aquatic species and habitat, especially increased shipping activities (including icebreaking) on marine mammals.
  2. If not, identify what information or further clarification is required.
  3. To assist DFO Habitat Management with an analysis of the impacts and proposed mitigation measures outlined in the EIS.
  4. If necessary, recommend additional mitigation measures in order to reduce or avoid impacts to fish and fish habitat, including marine mammals.

Objectives 1 and 2 will be addressed in a meeting scheduled for 7 March 2011. Objectives 3 and 4 will be addressed at the 19 September 2011 meeting once the proponent has filled the information gaps identified under objective 2.

Expected publications

This science advisory meeting will generate a proceedings report that summarizes the discussions of the participants. It will be published in the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Proceedings Series on the CSAS website. Advice resulting from the meeting will be published as a CSAS Science Advisory Report. Detailed technical review comments will be published as a Research Document.


DFO Science sector (C&A, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador regions) is invited to this advisory meeting.


Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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