Earlier today Greenpeace activists gathered in front of the headquarters of global steel giant ArcelorMittal in Luxembourg to protest in solidarity with the Nuluujaat Land Guardians and Inuit communities negatively impacted by the Mary River iron mine in the Canadian Arctic. The mine is operated by Baffinland, a company co-owned by ArcelorMittal. Baffinland is one of ArcelorMittal’s principal international iron ore suppliers, and Inuit point to the mine’s harmful impacts on marine mammals, caribou calving grounds and traditional lands.
“Our way of life as Inuit and our rights as Indigenous people are threatened by the operation of this mine,” said Lori Idlout, lawyer for the Nuluujaat Land Guardians, a group of Inuit formed in response to the mine, from her home in the Canadian Arctic. “The Arctic animals we love and depend upon are seriously at risk. ArcelorMittal is an owner, customer, and financier of this mine and is responsible for environmentally sound operations and respect for our rights as Inuit.”
Activists carried banners reading “ArcelorMittal: Respect Indigenous Rights” and “Respect Inuit Or Leave”. The latter banner was designed by Christi Belcourt, an Indigenous artist living and working in Canada.
ArcelorMittal is a member of the ResponsibleSteel initiative, whose principles include respecting Indigenous People’s right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for projects impacting their rights.
The Mary River mine sits in the Arctic archipelago in northern Canada, adjacent to internationally recognized narwhal calving grounds and harvest areas of great significance for the Arctic region and its communities. It is operated by Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, a company co-owned by ArcelorMittal and The Energy and Minerals Group, a U.S.-based firm.
Baffinland is seeking to expand production from 6 to 12 million tonnes of iron ore per year, and proposes a first for the Canadian Arctic: a 100km railway to carry ore to a port at Milne Inlet, Nunavut, crossing an important caribou migration route. This expansion proposal is now undergoing regulatory review. ArcelorMittal has an option to provide additional equity financing for the proposed expansion.
Baffinland is pressing forward with this expansion proposal while facing public criticism for a variety of issues, including: poor management of environmental impacts, evading legitimate royalty payments to the Indigenous landowner, sexual harassment of women in the mine workforce, and losing community trust based on abuse of traditional knowledge.
Inuit communities continue to depend on Arctic wildlife for their food and culture, and are deeply concerned about the potential impact of the proposed expansion on their way of life. They are not opposed to all mining, but want to see it done in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
The Nuluujaat Land Guardians blockaded the mine for a week at the beginning of February to protest Baffinland’s actions and its refusal to address Inuit concerns. The blockade sparked solidarity protests across Nunavut and even moved a group of Baffinland workers to pen an open letter in support of the Nuluujaat Land Guardians.
Please join Greenpeace in standing in solidarity with Inuit by donating to the Nuluujaat Land Guardians. Support their courageous fight to protect the Arctic and their way of life from reckless mining companies: https://ca.gofundme.com/f/help-inuit-save-our-future.