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Baffinland Iron Mines sets high Arctic high volume shipping record

by Greg Klein | November 8, 2018

Competing with northern European coal and its own past performance, Baffinland Iron Mines claims the largest shipping program by volume for the Canadian and Scandinavian high Arctic. During an 86-day season that ended October 17, some 71 voyages carried an average 71,750 tonnes of iron ore each from the company’s Milne Inlet port at 71.25 degrees latitude. Destinations included continental Europe, the UK and, in a first for iron ore bulk transport, two trips along the Russian coast to Taiwan and Japan.

Total tonnage came to about 5.1 million, surpassing the previous 4.1-million-tonne record set by Baffinland in 2017. The ore comes from Mary River, 100 kilometres by road from the port.

Baffinland Iron Mines sets high Arctic high volume record

This year’s season included the world’s first two bulk transports
of iron ore through the Northern Sea Route to Asia.
(Photo: Baffinland Iron Mines)

President/CEO Brian Penney attributed “a successful, safe and responsible shipping season” to employees and shipping partners, as well as the support of northern Baffin Island communities and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.

The Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization support an onboard monitoring program “to ensure no adverse environmental impacts or impacts on Inuit shipping vessels,” the company stated. “These programs combined scientific and traditional Inuit knowledge. No health and safety or environmental incidents occurred during the shipping program.”

An application before the Nunavut Impact Review Board proposes to replace Baffinland’s tote road with a railway linking the mine with Milne Inlet. Following community consultations, NIRB expects to make its recommendation in June, Baffinland communications officer Jason Leite tells ResourceClips.com. The federal cabinet decision should follow in 30 to 90 days.

The company also hopes to lay track south to a proposed Baffin Island port at Steensby Inlet. The Steensby route and facilities were approved in 2014, although market conditions prompted the company to scale its plans down radically to an Early Revenue Phase.

“The plan to go south to Steensby is still on the horizon and it’s part of our expanded growth outlook over the next decade, or even 15 to 20 years,” Leite says. “We’re taking a tiered approach to our expansion programs.”

The company’s eventual goal is 30 million tonnes per year. Last month Baffinland received federal approval to increase annual production from 4.2 million to six million tonnes despite a negative NIRB recommendation.

Held jointly by Nunavut Iron Ore and ArcelorMittal, Baffinland credits Mary River with “the highest grade of direct shipping iron ore in the world.”

Read more about Canadian arctic shipping.

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