The massive iron ore 'megamine' planned in the Canadian Arctic has been granted environmental and native title approval.
Canada's Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) has now cleared the Mary River project.
It comes as the mine schedules construction for early next year.
The mine, jointly owned by Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and his firm ArcleorMittal and Canadian company Iron Ore Holdings, was originally announced mid last year.
After four years of studies the NIRB has imposed around 184 conditions, mostly focused on minimising its environmental and social impacts, according to Domian-b.com.
The announcement was welcomed by the indigenous Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA).
“It has been four years of hard work. QIA has been an integral part of this process and we look forward to final project approval,” QIA president Okalik Eegeesiak said.
According to the QIA "pending the review of NIRB’s Final Decision Report, the Minister has the choice to approve or disapprove the project. If approved, the next step in the review process is the project certificate workshop where interveners get together to discuss the various terms and conditions found within the NIRB Final Decision Report".
Worth a potential $21 billion, the Mary River mine will employ more than 2000 workers to construct 24 bridges, roads, airstrips, ports and infrastructure.
It is estimated to contain around 365 million tonnes of iron ore at grades of around 65%, and it projected to have an annual capacity of 18 million tonnes.
To date the mine has attracted a high amount of criticism for its potential environmental impacts.