A group of Inuit hunters, protesting an expansion they maintain will harm local wildlife, have put up a blockade to a remote iron mine owned by an Oakville-based company in northern Canada.
Beginning on Feb, 5 and braving frigid temperatures, the small group of hunters halted operations and blocked the airstrip and service road to the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation on North Baffin Island using a barrier of snowmobiles and sleds.
The protesters are disputing plans by the mine operator to double output to 12 million tonnes a year and would also include building a 110-kilometre railway from the mine to Milne Port near the community of Pond Inlet.
They say the railway construction would do damage to seal hunting grounds and make it difficult for caribou to cross the train tracks.
While the Oakville-based company has yet to find a resolution to the reopening of the airstrip on Mary River, they continue to meet with Nunaut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA), the Mayor of Pond Inlet, the government of Nunavut and the RCMP to do so.
The blockade has resulted in a delay of food and supply flights for the 700 workers at the mine.
“Baffinland respects the right to peaceful protest, however, Baffinland cannot allow any activity to continue that causes safety concern to any of the people on-site,” the company said on its website. “All this time, all attempts to negotiate the reopening of the Mary River airstrip made no progress and Baffinland is considering all options.”
Photo credits: Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation