Tununiq MLA calls for more drug testing at Baffin Island mine

Nov 20, 2020

According to David Qamaniq, Tununiq MLA, Baffinland Iron Mines should implement more stringent drug and alcohol testing. Specifically, during recent regulatory meetings, Qamaniq has suggested that all workers should be screened using urine samples, similar to the drug-testing process used at the Olympics.

In turn, Baffinland Iron Mines has produced a written response to Qamaniq’s comments, stating that the justice system imposes legal limits on random drug testing of employees. However, the company has also stated that it carries out drug and alcohol testing when there’s “reasonable cause to believe an employee is impaired.” Moreover, the company has also stated that it offers multiple levels of support for workers seeking assistance for drug and alcohol addiction, including community counselling services, the presence of cultural advisers on site, drug and alcohol education and awareness campaigns on site, as well as access to a 24/7 employee and family assistance program.

However, Qamaniq argued that Arcelor Mittal, which has a minority ownership stake in the Mary River mine, is a multinational company with projects located in numerous nations. According to a statement released by Baffinland, “Regardless of the number of businesses Arcelor Mittal is invested in, each one is responsible for their own profit and loss and, as such, will attract or shrink investment opportunities.”

In its 2019 filing, Arcelor Mittal reported a loss of $72 million from the Mary River mine due to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Baffinland highlighted its impact on the local community, emphasizing that it employed 60 Pond Inlet residents in 2019, which amounted to $2.7 million in wages. In addition, Baffinland also employs four shipping monitors in Pond Inlet during each shipping season.

Further, Baffinland reported having paid $566,982 to several Pond Inlet firms that performed various contracting duties. The local community is located 160 km south of the mine.