Photo: Qikiqtani Inuit Association
A Nunavut Inuit organization has collected more than $24 million from a mine that’s been in operation for two years, the Nunatsiaq News reported. The Qikiqtani Inuit Association gets the money from Baffinland Iron Mines under an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for the Mary River iron ore mine, which began operations in September 2014. The QIA represents over 14,000 people.
“All of the Mary River project IIBA royalties have been sitting in a separate QIA account accumulating interest,” the paper quoted organization president P.J. Akeeagok speaking at an AGM on October 4. “The current value of that account is $24.2 million, to March 31, 2016.”
On October 5 the organization announced a legacy fund to deliver programs as well as guard the money for future generations. “We will want to hear from Inuit in our region what they would like to see done in terms of programming or projects with the Inuit money,” Akeeagok stated.
Early last month the group launched arbitration proceedings against the northern Baffin Island miner, claiming the company owed advance royalties of $6.25 million plus interest. “QIA is aware that the Mary River project has experienced financial pressures, but QIA negotiated substantial financial participation payments in the IIBA as compensation for the impact to Inuit of BIMC mining activities on Inuit Owned Lands,” the organization stated. “As such it is imperative to QIA that the objectives and intent of all IIBA provisions be complied with to the greatest extent possible.”
The dispute goes to a three-person panel in Vancouver on October 25 and 26.
Baffinland is held 50/50 by Iron Ore Holdings and ArcelorMittal, with the latter acting as project operator. Unprocessed ore is trucked 100 kilometres north to Milne port, from where it’s shipped to European customers.