Baffinland Iron Mine
|Company||Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation|
Paul Waldie, a Globe and Mail business reporter, called the project one of the most ambitious in any Arctic region, and said it was expected to "triple the territory's annual gross domestic product growth rate and provide nearly $5-billion in tax revenue and royalties to the territory over the life of the project."
Environmental critics express concern over the impact the railway will have on migrating caribou, and the impact the frequent passages of the big ice-breaking freighters will have on sea mammals.
Archeologist Sylvie LeBlanc has described how the railway line will parallel the longest line of ancient inuksuit yet found -- Inuit navigation sculptures—over inuksuk sculptures in a line 6 kilometers long.
In 2012, in a move that surprised many observers, Baffinland seemed to abandon its original development strategy, where a railway would have transported ore to a new port on the south coast of Baffin Island in favour of a having ultra-large dump trucks convey the ore directly from the mine-site via a "tote road" over 100 kilometers to a new port on Baffin Island's north coast. The move surprised observers because the original plan had spent several years undergoing an environmental assessment, and was abandoned not long after the plan had been approved. The plan to carry ore via giant trucks has not gone through an environmental assessment. Baffinland has asserted that changes in the market for iron ore required a plan that was less expensive to get underway, even if it would be of limited capacity, and would be more expensive to run.
The ore body
Iron ore was first discovered in the Mary River area by Murray Edmund Watts (founder of Watts, Griffis and McOuat Limited) and Ron Sheardown, in 1962. But exploitation of the ore body waited for an increase in the price of ore. According to the Railway Gazette International the ore in this ore body is sufficiently pure that it will not be necessary to conduct any processing before shipping it to market.
The corporation expects to sell the ore in Europe at no less than $67 per tonne for lump ore and $55 per tonne for fines. The corporation expects to produce 18,000,000 t (18,000,000 long tons; 20,000,000 short tons) per year for 20 years or more, and to pay down the cost of building the mine within the first 3 to 7 years.
In 2008 a 150,000 t (150,000 long tons; 170,000 short tons) sample was shipped to Europe for testing. The ore was transported to Milne Inlet, where it was carried by barges to a freighter waiting off-shore.
Australian newspaper The Age reported that due to the financial crisis of 2007 Baffinland needed to secure an emergency loan of C$43.8 million, in order to ship enough supplies for the workers on site—or they would not have been able to survive the winter. According to The Age the emergency line of credit was necessary because the Baffinland management did not have the funds available to ship supplies to the 200 workers on site before shipping closed for the season, "after investing in commercial paper that borrowers couldn't repay." According to The Age 95 percent of Baffinland's funds had been invested in short term debts investment vehicles, of 364 days or less.
In September 2010 a specially formed private equity firm Nunavut Iron Ore tried to buy all of Baffinland for C$274 million. Richard McCloskey, then Baffinland's chairman, told Mining Weekly in August 2010 the firm was seeking partners to provide the financing for the mine's construction.
ArcelorMittal bid to buy Baffinland; Nunavut Iron Ore Acquisition Company (NIO) subsequently made a hostile offer and increased it in December 2010. The two firms agreed to merge their bids on January 14, 2011. Reuters reports that the share price tripled during the four-month bidding war.
In March 2011, it was announced that ArcelorMittal had taken a 70% share in the additional stake, and Iron Ore Holdings the remaining 30%. "Iron Ore Holdings is a limited partnership formed under the laws of Delaware for the purpose of making the Offer. Iron Ore Holdings is owned by Bruce Walter, the Chairman of Nunavut Iron, Jowdat Waheed, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Nunavut Iron, and funds managed by The Energy & Minerals Group (a private Houston-based fund that makes equity investments of $150 to $400 million in entities with talented, experienced management teams) which is providing the majority of the equity financing for the Offer. The Energy & Minerals Group is a private investment firm with a family of funds with over US$2 billion under management that invest in the energy and minerals sectors." Subsequently, Nunavut Iron became WW Mines. ArcelorMittal retain the position of Project Operator in this 50-50 joint venture.
Insider trading reports
In January 2012 The Globe and Mail reported that some senior executives were suspected of profiting from "insider trading" of Baffinland stock. According to the Mining Weekly Jowdat Waheed, an alumnus of Sherritt International and director at Sprint, and Bruce Walter tried to exploit information Waheed learned when he worked for Baffinland in early 2010 to try to mount a hostile takeover later in 2010. In February 2012 CBC News reported that a hearing before the Ontario Securities Commission had been scheduled for January 2013. The initial phase of the hearing began Jan. 14, 2013 and is scheduled to run through to Feb. 22, 2013.
The mine is planned to commence operations in 2014, staffed by a crew of 500. The sun sets on November 18 and does not rise again until January 23. But the corporation is considering whether some portion of the sunless period will have sufficient hours of twilight to continue operations.
The corporation plans to construct a railroad line to transport the ore to a port for transhipment. Two routes were considered and initially a 100 km (62 mi) route to Milne Inlet on Baffin Island's north shore was preferred. However a 149 km (93 mi) route to Steensby Inlet on the south shore was chosen because it is ice-free for a longer portion of the year.
According to the Financial Post this will be the most northerly operational railroad in the world, the Baffinland mine being about a degree of latitude farther north than the Russian railhead in the Yamal Peninsula. In April 2011 the Nunatsiaq News online edition reported the railway was anticipated to cost $1.9 billion CAD—just under half the entire $4 billion cost of constructing the mine.
CBC News reported that Sylvie LeBlanc an archaeologist from Carleton University described an "uninterrupted alignment of nearly 100 inuksuit" that is parallel to the proposed route for the rail line. Some of the inuksuit date back 4500 years. The chain runs from Steensby Inlet to 10 km Lake, a distance of 6 km (3.7 mi). LeBlanc described the uninterrupted chain of inuksuit as unprecedented in length and historical value.
In 2008 the Railway Gazette reported construction of the rail line was planned to begin in 2012. Because Baffin Island's soil is permafrost, the route was chosen so it lies on rock, gravel, or large-grained sand as much as possible. Fine-grained sand and clay soils pose more of a heaving problem when the surface layer annually thaws and freezes. The route will include five multi-span bridges totalling 1,400 m (4,600 ft) in length. Two tunnels 800 m (2,600 ft) and 250 m (820 ft) will be required. The tunnels will have to be lined and insulated to make sure waste heat from the trains and summer air doesn't melt the permafrost surrounding the tunnel. The route detours around large areas of poorly drained glacial deposits and areas likely to contain deposits of fossil ice.
The rail line will require 24 bridges in total and 300 culvert crossings. Seven of the bridges will be longer than 100 m (330 ft) Much of the line will run on top of a 4 m (13 ft) embankment, which needs to be pierced by culverts so wild-life can cross under it.
It is planned to use older carbon steel alloys for the rails, instead of more modern, higher performance alloys, because these can become brittle at very low temperatures. The rails and bridges are designed for fifty years of active service.
Construction of the rail line will require the opening of four quarries.
Parallel to the rail line there will be a roadway, 8 to 12 m (26 to 39 ft) wide, capable of carrying trucks weighing up to 100 t (98 long tons; 110 short tons).
During 2010 and 2011, when two separate firms were bidding to buy out the original Baffinland management team, an alternate shipping proposal was under consideration. In this alternate proposal ore would be shipped, by truck. The advantage to this approach would smaller start-up costs, and a shorter period before ore was shipped to market. Disadvantages were higher operating costs, making the price of a ton of ore approximately double that under the rail proposal, and a smaller capacity of ore, 3,000,000 t (3,000,000 long tons; 3,300,000 short tons) per year, as opposed to the 20,000,000 t (20,000,000 long tons; 22,000,000 short tons) per year under the rail proposal.
The Railway Gazette reported in July 2008 that Baffinland planned to purchase three train sets, each containing 64 hopper cars, which will each make two round trips per day. Nunatsiaq News online edition reported in April 2011 that the two diesel locomotives per train-set would be called upon to lead trains containing 100 to 130 hopper cars. The Railway Gazette reported that EMD SD70 and GE Dash-9 were candidates for the lines' locomotives. Initial plans included running a personnel train several times per week. Current plans include building a permanent airstrip at the mine site.
Nine icebreaking freighters
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Baffinland plans to employ nine icebreaking freighters, each displacing 190,000 tonnes. Baffinland plans to contract the Fednav Group to manage its shipping. When in full operation Baffinland plans to fill one freighter every two days. The plan to have freighters operating year-round has stirred controversy, because of its potential impact on sea mammals living on the winter ice-pack.
The CBC interviewed Inuit from the region in April 2008, about their concerns with the plans. Jaypetee Palluq, an Igloolik resident who had been asked to serve on a Baffinland advisory committee, was concerned that the mine's operation would interfere with the traditional hunts for sea mammals, like walrus. He called on Baffinland to "find an alternate shipping route to the mine, regardless of the cost." Paul Quassa, Mayor of Igloolik, also expressed concern, over the effect of freighters on the ice used by the Walrus. He said the region was known for its highly prized aged, fermented walrus meat, a valuable export from the region.
In August 2008 the CBC reported that Baffinland acknowledged three fuel spills. Baffinland's vice-president of sustainable development, Derek Chubb, asserted that the three spills were contained within "secondary engineered containment facilities", and that there was no environmental damage. 5,000 l (1,100 imp gal; 1,300 US gal) of aviation fuel leaked from a fuel bladder at the mine's port facilities on Milne Inlet. The other two leaks of 200 l (44 imp gal; 53 US gal), occurred near the mine site. Baffinland acknowledged that the leaks had been found months earlier, but had not been made public. Michael Nadler, the regional director general of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs speculated that mine officials may not have felt an obligation to publicly report the leaks because they believed there had been no damage.
In January 2012 Baffinland submitted a draft environmental plan to the Nunavut Impact Review Board. On February 29, 2012, the Nunavut Impact Review Board announced that Baffinland's 10 volume environmental plan broadly met its requirements for the points this kind of plan should address. The Board then begins its technical review of the plan. When the Board's technical review is complete it will hold public hearings in Iqaluit, Igloolik and Pond Inlet
In May, 2012, archeologist Sylvie LeBlanc described a chain of inuksuit that is parallel to the proposed route of the rail line as of unprecedented length and historical value. LeBlanc registered her concern with the Nunavut Impact Review Board that explosions necessary to build the rail line will trigger vibrations which will damage the inuksuit. An internal Baffinland environmental impact study had said that there should be a "buffer distance" between the site of any blasting and sites of archeologically significant structures—but the study didn't specify what the distance was.
The corporation has signed a joint venture agreement with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. Nunavut Tunngavik controls the resource exploitation of Inuit owned lands. The agreement allows Baffinland exploration and resource development rights to 17,000 ha (42,000 acres) of Inuit-owned land adjacent to the mine-site.
- "Arctic iron ore line proposed". Railway Gazette. 2006-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
- "Baffinland Announces New Members of the Baffinland Team to Advance its World Class Iron Ore Project". Mining Top News. 2007-04-10. Archived from the original on 2009-05-01.
- "Baffin Island arctic ore line advances". Railway Gazette. 2008-04-25. Archived from the original on 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
- Carolyn Fitzpatrick (2008-07-24). "Heavy haul in the high north". Railway Gazette. Archived from the original on 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2008-08-10. "Premium steel rails will not be used, because the material has an increased potential to fracture at very low temperatures. Regular carbon steel is preferred, with a very high premium on the cleanliness of the steel. For this project, a low-alloy rail with standard strength and a Brinell hardness in the range of 300 would be most appropriate."
- "Baffin Island Iron". Arctic Economics. 2008-07-28. Archived from the original on 2009-05-01.
- David K. Joy. "Mary River Iron Project". Archived from the original on 2009-05-03.
- Paul Waldie (2011-05-14). "A railway to Arctic riches: economic boom, environmental threat?". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2012-12-04. "The impact on Nunavut will be profound. The mine is expected to triple the territory's annual gross domestic product growth rate and provide nearly $5-billion in tax revenue and royalties to the territory over the life of the project. It will create more than 5,000 direct jobs, many more indirect positions and offer training opportunities in an area of the country where four out of every six people live in social housing and life expectancy is 10 years lower than the rest of Canada."
- "Baffinland's proposed railway near inuksuk chain: Archaeologist says it's the longest intact navigational system of its kind ever documented". CBC News. 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2012-06-04. "One of the outstanding questions about the impacts of the proposed Mary River Iron Mine near Pond Inlet is what will happen to a chain of ancient inuksuit." mirror
- Jane George (2011-10-07). "Draft EIS for Nunavut’s Mary River mine sparks stinging technical review" (in English). Cambridge Bay: Nunatsiaq. Archived from the original on 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2012-11-21. "The antiquity of some archeological remains along this navigational system, which goes back more than 4,500 years, indicates that “it has been used by people representing every Arctic culture for millennia.”"
- "Inuksuit on the railroad" (in English). Isuma TV. 2012-05-10. Archived from the original on 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2012-11-21. "The railway will run along a chain of roughly 100 inuksuit that extends for over six kilometres near the mouth of Steensby Inlet."
- "Baffinland's proposed railway near inukshuk chain" (in English). Yahoo News. 2012-05-05. Archived from the original on 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2012-11-21. "LeBlanc said it is the longest intact navigational system of its kind ever documented... LeBlanc registered her concerns with the Nunavut Impact Review Board that rock eruptions and vibrations from blasting activities during railway construction could affect the structures."
- "One year later, more public hearings for Baffinland". CBC North. 2014-01-03. Archived from the original on 2014-01-04. "It’s been a year since Baffinland Iron Mines announced changes to its Mary River project. Now a regulatory hurdle that the company had hoped to pass six months ago has evolved into another set of public hearings."
- Rob Delaney (2007-09-26). "Credit freeze takes its toll in Canada". The Age. Archived from the original on 2009-12-13. "Baffinland ran short of money to pay for food, fuel and drilling equipment after investing in commercial paper that borrowers couldn't repay. Without the money, the company had to arrange an emergency line of credit before shipping lanes froze over. "We have 200 people to keep alive," chief executive Gordon McCreary said in Toronto. The $C43.8 million ($A50.5 million) invested in commercial paper was the company's lifeline to getting critical materials to the north, he said."
- Paul Waldie, Tim Kiladze (2012-01-09). "Baffinland consultant accused of insider trading". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-03-04. "In documents released Monday, the Ontario Securities Commission accused Mr. Waheed and Mr. Walter of illegal insider trading, alleging they profited from inside information through the prolonged takeover battle which ended in them acquiring a 30-per-cent interest in Baffinland. Mr. Waheed also faces allegations of insider tipping – sharing corporate information that had not been publicly disclosed." mirror
- "Mining Journal - ArcelorMittal ups Baffinland price". Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
- Sunny Freeman (2010-09-22). "Baffinland Iron shares surge 68 per cent after hostile bid" (in English). Toronto: Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2012-12-04. "Nunavut Iron Ore is offering 80 cents cash a share, a 100 per cent premium to Baffinland's share price at the end of August, when the bidder started buying up shares in the company at around 40 cents apiece. But Baffinland's shares have been rising steadily since then and spiked 38 cents Wednesday to close at 94 cents each in heavy trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange."
- Peter Koven (2010-12-29). "Battle for Baffinland continues". National Post. Retrieved 2012-06-04. "Nunavut Iron Ore Acquisition Inc., the private company led by former Baffinland consultant Jowdat Waheed, raised its partial bid to $1.40 a share in cash, up from the previous level of $1.35. The company also said it would take up a maximum of 60% of Baffinland shares, more than its prior offer of 50.1%, and added a new proposal to potentially issue warrants to Baffinland shareholders." mirror
- "Duncan says yes to Nunavut’s Mary River iron mine: Next step is NIRB project certificate workshop". Nunavut: Nunatsiaq News. 2012-12-03. Archived from the original on 2012-12-04. "John Duncan, the northern development minister, said yes to the Mary River iron mine project Dec. 3, closing a four-year-long chapter in the project’s regulatory journey that opens up a new phase leading to the issuing of licences and permits."
- "Feds give Mary River project green light: Aboriginal Affairs approves massive open-pit mine". CBC North. 2012-12-03. Archived from the original on 2012-12-04. "A press release from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada says the approval is based on the recommendation of the Nunavut Impact Review Board. The board’s executive director, Ryan Barry, says it’s a big day for the territory. "We do feel it's certainly a milestone for our organization, as this is a very big and important file for Nunavut," he said."
- Julie Gedeon (2009-03-02). "ARCTIC SHIPPING SPECIAL REPORT: Floating wharf gets around lack of Arctic infrastructure". Canadian Sailings. Archived from the original on 2009-12-12.
- "Sample ore from Nunavut iron project en route to Netherlands". CBC News. 2008-09-08. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
- Matthew Hill (2010-09-22). "Private equity firm offers to buy Baffinland Iron". Mining Weekly. Retrieved 2012-03-04. "Private equity vehicle Nunavut Iron Ore on Wednesday announced an offer to buy Canadian junior Baffinland Iron Mines for C$0,80 a share in cash, valuing the company at C$274-million." mirror
- newswire.ca 28 Oct 2010
- Julie Gordon (2011-01-14). "Baffinland conundrum: moving ore by road or rail". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-06-04. "Trucking iron ore from Baffinland's Arctic mine instead of moving it by rail would cost much less at first, but the over-the-road option would slash output and cause operating costs to balloon." mirror
- "ArcelorMittal, Nunavut and Baffinland Complete Plan of Arrangement - Mining Top News". Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- "Texas-backed two-step: Bruce Walter looked outgunned in the bidding for Baffinland Iron Mines. But then he brought up partnership" listedmag.com March 2011
- "EMG: about us"
- "OSC targets duo behind bid for Baffinland" 9 January 2012 Financial Post
- "Baffinland: who we are"
- "Executive Profile* Jowdat Waheed" businessweek.com
- Matthew Hill (2012-01-10). "OSC alleges two Baffinland buyers flaunted securities laws". Mining Weekly. Retrieved 2012-03-04. "The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has accused former Baffinland Iron Mines consultant Jowdat Waheed and business partner Bruce Walter of using insider information to mount a hostile bid for the company in 2010." mirror
- "Baffinland insider trading hearing set for 2013: Jowdat Waheed and Bruce Walter are directors at mine company". CBC News. 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2012-06-04. "Representatives for the two men appeared before the an OSC panel in Toronto Wednesday morning. The panel scheduled a full hearing for January 2013." mirror
- "Sunrise/Sunset/Sun Angle Calculator". National Research Council of Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-04. mirror
- "Nunavut’s Baffinland iron mine project moves into final hearings (March 1, 2012):". Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2012-03-04. "Baffinland Iron Mine Corp.‘s huge iron mine project on Nunavut’s northern Baffin Island took an important step forward Feb. 29, when the Nunavut Impact Review Board ruled the company’s final Environmental Impact Statement “positively complies” with guidelines and the preliminary hearings’ decisions issued for the project. Final hearings on Mary River will take place this July in Iqaluit, Igloolik and Pond Inlet, the NIRB and the Nunavut Water Board said Feb. 29." mirror
- Jane George (2012-03-01). "Nunavut’s Baffinland iron mine project moves into final hearings". Nunatsiaq News online edition. Retrieved 2012-03-04. mirror
- Paul Waldie (2011-05-11). "A railway to Arctic riches: economic boom, environmental threat?". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2012-01-17. "No one has built one this far north, anywhere. But now – thanks to an insatiable global demand for minerals, and climate change that has opened up northern shipping routes – a rail line across part of Baffin Island is about to become a reality."
- Mining railways used to operate in the much more northerly Svalbard, but they appear to have been abandoned. See The Railways of Spitsbergen
- Julie Gordon (2011-01-18). "Baffinland: Developing Arctic iron ore mine is no easy task". Financial Post. Retrieved 2012-01-17. mirror
- Jane George (2011-04-08). "Huge iron road to turn Baffin into Nunavut’s industrial hub:". Nunatsiaq News online edition. Retrieved 2012-06-04. mirror
- Jane George (2012-04-19). "Baffinland’s huge iron road faces climate, landscape challenges: Railway would include 13 locomotives, 480 ore carriers". Nunatsiaq News online edition. Retrieved 2012-06-04. "The railway will include 13 locomotives with 480 ore carriers, divided into four trains of 110 to 130 cars each. Each will make at least two round trips per day between Mary River and Steensby Inlet 300 days a year, according to information from the project’s environmental impact statement." mirror
- Jane George (2012-02-20). "Baffinland gives NIRB final EIS for Mary River: Nunavut Impact Review Board now reviewing huge environmental document". Nunatsiaq News online edition. Retrieved 2012-06-04. mirror
- Scott Haggett (2011-01-13). "Baffinland sees mine cost at C$740 mln with trucks". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-06-04. "Using trucks, the mine could begin producing 1 million tonnes of lump and fine iron ore by 2013, with output rising to 3 million tonnes a year later - a level the site can sustain for 20 years, Baffinland said in a release." mirror
- "Marine shipping route tops Igloolik concerns about mine proposal: mayor". CBC News. 2009-04-19. Retrieved 2009-12-12. "The Nunavut Impact Review Board is heading to Igloolik this week for a second round of public meetings as part of its environmental assessment of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.'s Mary River iron mine proposal." mirror
- "Baffin Island residents resist proposed iron mine plans". CBC News. 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2009-12-12. "Residents in Igloolik, Nunavut, and some Baffin Island communities oppose plans for an iron mine in the area because its proposed marine shipping route cuts through Foxe Basin, where generations of Inuit have hunted for walrus." mirror
- "Baffinland reports 3 fuel spills at Nunavut site". CBC News. 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2009-12-12. "In June, about 5,000 litres of jet fuel leaked out of a containment bladder in the mine site's tank farm at Milne Inlet. The fuel collected in sand sitting in an impermeable liner designed to keep spills from being released into the environment." mirror
- "Human error led to spill at Mary River mining site: Baffinland". CBC News. 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2009-12-12. "The oily water was taken from the company's fuel depot, which is lined to prevent seepage, and was released onto the ground a few hundred metres away. It's the fourth spill that Baffinland has reported since June, but the first spill to escape a lined area. The Mary River project is about 160 kilometres south of Pond Inlet on Baffin Island." mirror
- "Federal investigators to look into Baffinland oil, grease spill". CBC News. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2009-12-12. "On Sept. 22, more than 100,000 litres of water that had not been completely treated spilled out of a water tank and into a ditch near the Milne Inlet fuel storage tank." mirror
- Jane George. "Nunavut’s Baffinland iron mine project moves into final hearings: Hearings to take place in July in Iqaluit, Igloolik and Pond Inlet". Nunatsiaq News online edition. Retrieved 2012-06-04. mirror
- Jane George (2012-03-01). "Nunavut’s Baffinland iron mine project moves into final hearings: Hearings to take place in July in Iqaluit, Igloolik and Pond Inlet". Nunatsiaq News online edition. Retrieved 2012-06-04. "Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.‘s huge iron mine project on Nunavut’s northern Baffin Island took an important step forward Feb. 29, when the Nunavut Impact Review Board ruled the company’s final Environmental Impact Statement “positively complies” with guidelines and the preliminary hearings’ decisions issued for the project." mirror
- "Baffinland Forms Exploration Joint Venture With Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.". Mining Top News. 2008-09-10. Archived from the original on 2009-05-01.
- "Iron mine- Inuit strike an MOU". Siku News. 2009-04-01. Archived from the original on 2009-05-03.