By EPCM World contributor Joe Veroni
As of Friday, June 1st, Hatch will be reassigning the majority of their Mary River Project staff. According to multiple sources, over 100 of the staff assigned to Mary River will be taken off the project by end of week.
Hatch was hired by Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. (owned by ArcelorMittal) in 2011 to conduct pre-development studies and obtain necessary environmental permits at the Mary River site, and currently has approximately 150 employees dedicated to the project. That number is expected to be trimmed down to 40-45 in short order. The news was announced to the Mary River employees by Harry Charalambu, Project Director with Hatch, at a company “State of the Union” style address.
Hatch’s decision to reassign staff may be in keeping with Baffinland’s announcement late last year that their 2012 work will “be considerably scaled back.”
Original projections had construction starting at Mary River this year. However, the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) told Baffinland that there remained over 350 questions that that the company still had to answer in their final environmental impact statement. In the same press release the company maintained that “Baffinland remains committed to the project.”
When asked about Hatch’s re-organization, Ron Hampton, ArcelorMittal’s Vice President and Project Director, said the move is “business as usual.” Hampton explained, “Hatch was putting together a feasibility study for us, and with that complete they are reassigning some of their employees. They are still keeping a smaller team together to work on our environmental reviews.”
According to Hampton, Baffinland remains committed to the Mary River project and are looking forward to getting construction underway. “Once we have our permits in hand,” Hampton said, “we will be able to go ahead and start building this thing.”
Mary River is located on Baffin Island about 936 km (582 mi) northwest of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, and about 176 km (109 mi) southwest of Pond Inlet. It is home to iron ore deposits discovered in 1962 byMurray Edmund Watts and Ron Sheardown. The ore deposits are of such a high quality that only crushing is required, with no chemical processing. Baffinland says that 21 million tonnes of ore will be processed each year for 21 years, once processing commences. Delivery of the ore will require four trainloads per day for 293 days per year. The trains will travel between the open pits and port facilities at Steensby Inlet that will ship the ore to European steel makers.
Originally the mine was slated to have a four-year construction period starting in 2012. The construction period was expected to increase the total number of jobs in the Baffin region by about 70%, with additional jobs being added to the area once Mary River ore production actually starts.