Vale changes shipping dates at Nunatsiavut’s request

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Aboriginal government says time needed for harvesting, land use

Consideration of weather and ice conditions off the Labrador coast has led to a change in shipping dates for ore from Vale’s nickel mine in Voisey’s Bay.

According to Vale Newfoundland and Labrador spokesman Bob Carter, the company has two, fixed “closure periods” on shipping each year wherein material is not moved from the Labrador mine. One of the scheduled closure periods is in the fall, usually as sea ice is forming. The second is in the spring.

“That’s when the ice has traditionally been getting soft and also when there is a fair amount of harvesting activities from the communities on the ice,” he said.

The closure period for shipping this spring, allowing for safer on-ice activities by Nunatsiavut residents, was set for April 7 to May 22, but will instead run April 16 to May 31.

The change in dates was made at the request of the Nunatsiavut Government and announced today by President Sarah Leo in a statement.

“Given the unusual weather conditions being experienced on the north coast of Labrador this spring, and the fact that Inuit are concerned that any shipping activity between April 16 and May 31 would interfere with harvesting and other land uses, I have written Vale and requested that the planned closure be adjusted,” she stated, adding the company agreed with the request.

Spokesman Bert Pomeroy said weather conditions have so far been keeping many people from heading out on early spring activities that might see them crossing the ice near shore or out on the ice — activities including ice fishing, hunting, travelling to cabins and gathering wood.

Conditions are expected to improve and the Easter week holiday is approaching, he said. As a result, it was expected more people would be heading out and about outside of the original closure period scheduled for Voisey’s shipments.

“We had a lot of snow and snow again today and there’s not a lot of people — there’s people travelling, but when the (new) closure is on, there will be more people travelling,” he said.

“We figure it will be better for travelling.”

Geographic location: Labrador

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