The Mary River mine site is one of the most northern and richest in iron ore in the world. It consists of nine plus high-grade lump and fine iron ore deposits that can be mined, crushed and screened into marketable products and then shipped through our dedicated port facility. The mine and port are now fully operational; Baffinland shipped its first iron ore to European Markets in July, 2015. Due to the quality of the ore, no processing is required before shipping it to market, reducing overall impact to the environment and keeping production costs low. Baffinland has adopted a phased development strategy for this resource which is critical to prudent, reduced-risk development.
The Mary River Project is located on northern Baffin Island, in the Nunavut Territory, in the Canadian Arctic. Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation (Baffinland)’s initial Project consisted of mining iron ore from the reserve at Deposit No. 1 at a production rate of 18 Million tonnes per year (Mt/a). The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) issued the Project Certificate for this Project on December 28, 2012.
The Mary River Project is located on North Baffin Island in the Qikiqtani Region of Nunavut, Canada.
The climate conditions of this location play an important role in the planning and execution of the Project as the area experiences very cold temperatures that average -30° Celsius in the winter and 24-hour darkness from November to January. Summers bring 24-hour daylight from May to August, but continued cool to cold conditions. While these conditions are typical of Arctic environments, they will require consideration in the planning and logistics relative to most Project activities, but especially to shipping, procurement, logistics, construction and field investigations.
Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
Nunavut is Canada’s largest and newest federal territory.
Baffin Island: The largest island in Canada and fifth largest in the world
The territory of Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago with a population of approximately 36,702 (Nunavut Population (January 1, 2015); The name “Nunavut” means “our land” in Inuktitut, the regional Inuit language. The capital of the Nunavut is Iqaluit on Baffin Island with a population of approximately 13,000. It is the largest island in Canada and fifth largest island in the world. Baffin Island is extremely remote, located in the Arctic Ocean, most of the island’s population resides in Iqaluit.
On January 13, 2013 Baffinland informed the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB or Board) that, due to various business drivers, Baffinland was proposing to make changes to the schedule and specific activities in the initial stages of the development associated with the Mary River Project. Baffinland noted it understood that this Project amendment request would potentially necessitate a reconsideration of the Terms and Conditions contained within Project Certificate No. 005 as issued by the NIRB on December 28, 2012 for the Mary River Project.
The proposed changes to the schedule and specific activities, defined as Early Revenue Phase (ERP), consists of the re-introduction of shipment of up to 3.5 Mtpa ore via Milne Port, road transport of iron ore from the Mine Site to Milne Port via the Tote Road, and the deferral of the full scale development of the Approved Project (18 Mtpa production, with railway link to Steensby Port and the development of Steensby Port).
Pursuant to the NIRB’s instruction to Baffinland (February 2013) regarding the “Next Steps for the NIRB’s Reconsideration of Terms and Conditions Within Project Certificate No. 005 for Baffinland’s Mary River Project”, the Company prepared an addendum to the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the ERP components of the Mary River Project. The Addendum to the FEIS is part of the environmental assessment process established for a project under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Under this environmental assessment process, the proponent of a project, such as the Mary River Project, describes the surrounding environment and the proposed development. Potential effects are then predicted and mitigation plans are developed. The severity or “significance” of residual effects (effects remaining after mitigation measures have been applied), are evaluated based on established criteria and expert opinion.
The FEIS Addendum for the Early Revenue Phase (ERP) components of the Mary River project builds on the extensive baselines studies and assessments carried out since 2005 for the larger Approved Project and is thus closely linked to the FEIS submitted for review in February 2012.
The Early Revenue Phase
With the introduction of the ERP, the Mary River Project consists of mining iron ore from the reserve at Deposit No. 1 at a production rate of 21.5 Million tonnes per year (Mt/a). Initially, for the Early Revenue Phase, 3.5 Mtpa of iron ore will be mined, transported by trucks to Milne Port and shipped to markets from Milne Port during the open water season. As global markets improve for the prices of iron ore, the Company intends to proceed with the construction and operation of the larger Approved Project which includes the construction, operation, closure, and reclamation of a large scale mining operation (open-pit mine) and associated infrastructure for extraction, a railway link for the transportation of ore to Steensby Port, and, the construction and operation of a year around port facilities on Steensby Inlet for the shipment of iron ore. Once Steensby Port and the railway are operational, Baffinland expects that it will continue to ship up to 3.5 MTPA of ore via Milne Port for the duration of the Project. The environmental and socio economic impacts assessments for the Early Revenue Phase have accounted for the shipment of 3.5 MTPA of ore from Milne Port for the life of the Project (21 years).
There are 2 main project locations for the Early Revenue Phase (ERP) – the mine site at Mary River and Milne Port north of the mine which is connected via a tote road. Development will occur at the Mine Site, sufficient to support the mining of 3.5 Mtpa of iron ore. The Tote Road will be upgraded to enable safe and efficient transportation of ore by truck from the Mine site to Milne Port. Milne Port will be fully developed and will accommodate 3.5 million tonnes ore stockpile, an ore dock, maintenance facility and associated infrastructure for the operation of the port facilities.
On April 29, 2014, the Federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Bernard Valcourt, approved the positive recommendation by the Nunavut Impact Review Board. This gave Baffinland the go-ahead for the Early Revenue Phase amendment to the Mary River Project involving the seasonal shipping of 3.5 million tonnes of iron ore from Milne Inlet. At the same time, Minister Valcourt also signed off on the Nunavut Planning Commission’s proposed recommendation to amend the North Baffin Regional Land Use Plan to accommodate the shipping.
Baffinland’s President and CEO Tom Paddon stated, “This is a welcome achievement for our Company and I am pleased that all stakeholders have recognized the need to allow for regulatory flexibility in order for us to achieve a phased approach to developing this project. We are very pleased with the progress of construction and the building of our workforce. We have seen significant interest in employment from all five North Baffin Communities and will continue to build the skills and experience of our Inuit workforce.”
The early revenue phase provides for a phased approach to the development of the Mary River Project. Construction of the site commenced in Q2 of 2013 with mining of iron ore scheduled to begin as early as Q3 2014, and first shipment of iron ore expected during the open water season of 2015.