A Canadian review board has recommended turning down Baffinland Iron Mine’s request to expand the Mary River iron ore mine on Baffin Island, Nunavut, citing environmental concerns.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board’s (NIRB) reconsideration report and recommendations have been made to the Government of Nunavut (GN) regarding the Baffinland Phase 2 Development project.

GN said it will now review and assess how these recommendations for the project would impact the Nunavummiut and Nunavut communities.

In a press statement, GN said: “A full review will be taken of the report to understand how NIRB reached its decision and how intervenor feedback obtained throughout the lengthy review process was considered in the final determination.”

The Mary River Phase 2 Expansion Project aims to double the production from its current capacity of six million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of iron ore to 12Mtpa to compete in international iron ore markets.

The project also involves the addition of a second ore dock at the Port and the construction of a railway from the Mary River Mine Site to the Port Site.

NIRB chairperson Kaviq Kaluraq was cited by Reuters as saying that the proposal had ‘the potential to result in significant adverse ecosystemic effects on marine mammals and fish…and these effects could lead to associated significant adverse socio-economic effects on Inuit harvesting, culture, land use and food security’.

However, in response to the NIRB recommendation, Baffinland CEO Brian Penney said that the Phase 2 proposal was based on years of in-depth study and detailed scientific analysis. It has considerable local support.

Penney added: “We will be asking the federal government to consider all of the evidence and input and to approve the Phase 2 application with fair and reasonable conditions.”