Baffinland Iron Mines has scaled back its workforce by 586 contract employees.
The company stated that the layoffs, made public last week, are due to uncertainty associated with regulatory permit approvals for its phase two expansion plans.
Those affected are 490 non-Inuit and 96 Inuit contract workers. However, direct employees at the Mary River mine have not been released.
There’s no timeline for rehiring those laid off, according to Baffinland.
The mining company’s contentious phase two expansion “final” regulatory hearings earlier this month didn’t conclude as planned.
The proceedings, which were held in Iqaluit for several days, were supposed to wrap up in Pond Inlet but that portion was cancelled when NTI president Aluki Kotierk was granted a suspension of the hearings to allow for more time to gather information. Kotierk asked for a delay of up to one year.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) will decide on the length of the suspension after gathering input from parties involved in the hearings.
“Baffinland is committed to the NIRB process and supports the recent adjournment of the hearing, as it allows parties more time to formulate a coordinated response and continue to work towards the resolution of any outstanding issues,” Baffinland stated last week.
As part of its phase two expansion, Baffinland is proposing to raise output of iron ore to 12 million tonnes per year from the current six million tonnes.
The project would also entail a 110-km railroad stretching from Mary River to Milne Inlet.
Many questions continue to be asked about how the railway would affect caribou.
“We will keep working hard with all parties to find an agreeable path forward, remain committed to this, and look forward to the opportunity to continue to deliver community benefits, including training and employment opportunities for Inuit in accordance with the Inuit Impact Benefits Agreement, as well as sustained positive economic contributions to Nunavut’s growing economy for years to come,” Baffinland stated.