Is it Ignorance or Callous Behaviour?

by clemesur on November 24, 2016 - 2:04pm

An Article I came across really caught my attention, 'Poor management' leading to environmental issues at Nunavut's Baffinland mine, says regulator, by John Van Dusen of CBC news (November 8, 2016). In the article, John Van Dusen raises concerns regarding Baffinland’s environmental and waste management at the Mary River iron mine. The Baffinland iron mine in Mary River is located on north Baffin Island, approximately 160 kilometres southwest of Pond Inlet, Nunavut.

“There are growing environmental concerns among Nunavut Impact Review Board members about Baffinland Iron Mine's Mary River project”, says Van Dusen. According to an annual monitoring report of the mine by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB), 22 improvements in waste management was recommended to the Baffinland Iron Mine’s Mary River project. Many of the recommendations were a result of an on-site visit by the review board this past July, where they found undisposed piles of used tires laying around the site, and an uncontrollable seepage of water into the tundra leaking from piles of potential acid-generating waste rock. Other concerns regard missing reports of rock blasting management plans on a couple of their quarries, improving annual fish populations, explanations as to why the mining company suspended some of its monitoring programs on vegetation, roadside waterfowl and invasive plant species, explanations on how construction could potentially affect marine mammals and baseline information on polar bear monitoring. The report by the NIRB also included the concerns for Baffinland’s degrading relationship with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA). The QIA says Baffinland owes it millions of dollars in royalty payments, as per the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement, a document which outlines the benefits that the Inuit are supposed to receive for Baffinland using Inuit-owned land. The QIA also states that Baffinland provides insufficient data in certain areas of their 2015 monitoring report such as Inuit employment figures. The NIRB is giving Baffinland 30 days to respond to its recommendations in the report.

The article does state that it is only Baffinland’s second year in operation. In my opinion, the lack of waste management is a result of inexperience. I think the mining company can learn from their mistakes pointed out in the report by the NIRB. However, I think there is Behavioural conflict present between Baffinland and Qikiqtani Inuit Association. Behavioural conflict generally consists of mistrust and miscommunication. Baffinland did not communicate very well in some areas of their 2015 monitoring report. As a result, many concerns are raised by the QIA. I also think there is uncertainty in the form of ignorance (not knowing about a problem and the outcomes as a result) when it comes to the uncontrollable seepage of water coming from the acid-generating waste rock piles, or is this just lack of care? Perhaps the mining company was unaware of the environmental dangers this can cause such as contamination of drinking water and negative affects on the fish population in nearby water systems. I think it is suspicious that Baffinland has missing and suspended reports. As the report by the NIRB says, there are many improvements Baffinland needs to make in order to continue opporating in an environmentally sustainable way. In my opinion, this can be achieved through a new set of management plans and maybe a new director of sustainable development.

Link to Article: