King coal back af­ter nearly a decade

Xs­trata an­nounces scaled-back Donkin min­ing op­er­a­tion will go ahead

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ERIN POTTIE

DONKIN — Nearly a decade af­ter the clo­sure of Cape Bre­ton’s last un­der­ground mine, coal will once again be king.

Xs­trata Coal Donkin Man­age­ment an­nounced it will move ahead with an un­der­ground min­ing op­er­a­tion in Donkin but on a smaller scale than what was ex­pected.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple at­tended a pub­lic meet­ing at the Donkin fire hall to hear Aus­tralia-based min­ing cor­po­ra­tion Xs­trata and Er­dene Re­source De­vel­op­ment of Dart­mouth, N.S., an­nounce that the scope of the project has changed.

In­stead of min­ing for ther­mal coal used to fire large gen­er­at­ing plants, the Donkin coal project will fo­cus on min­ing cok­ing coal used in many in­dus­trial pro­cesses. The cok­ing coal project in­cludes the build­ing a coal wash­ing plant on the Donkin site and cre­at­ing a barge where coal will be loaded onto large ships.

Xs­trata Coal chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Jeff Ger­ard said about 200 on­site jobs will be cre­ated for Cape Bre­ton and an­other 1,000 spinoff jobs. Most of the on­site jobs would be un­der­ground.

Ger­ard said un­der a new pro­posal, Xs­trata and Er­dene ex­pect to pro­duce ap­prox­i­mately 2.75 mil­lion tonnes of washed, ex­port­grade cok­ing coal per year. It will likely be sold to mar­kets in Europe, South Amer­ica, In­dia and China.

“The re­source size of this mine is ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing that size of op­er­a­tion for well over 25 years,” he said. “So it’s a long-term proposi- tion.”

Changes to project come af­ter Nova Sco­tia Power an­nounced in late 2009 that it would not pur­chase raw coal pro­duced dur­ing the Donkin ex­plo­ration phase. The pri­vate com­pany has said un­washed Donkin coal con­tains too much mer­cury and sul­phur to be us­able un­der ex­ist­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

Xs­trata had planned to sell and truck 350,000 tonnes of raw coal per year to a pre­dom­i­nately do­mes­tic mar­ket us­ing truck­ing and pos­si­ble rail­way.

“I think there’s a dis­ap­point­ment that the rail­road won’t go ahead,” said Hugh Kennedy, chair­man of the Donkin-Port Cale­do­nia Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion and chair of the Donkin Xs­trata com­mu­nity li­ai­son com­mit­tee.

“I think a lot of fish­er­men, their con­cern is that they barge ( be­cause) that’s a rich fish­ing ground out there. For the (com­mu­nity li­ai­son com­mit­tee’s) per­spec­tive, that’s our is­sue right now.”

Project part­ners said they have been given en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­proval to be­gin the project. How­ever, the project re­quires both pro­vin­cial and fed­eral ap­proval for changes to in­fra­struc­ture. They ex­pect to be­gin min­ing Donkin next year.

“ I think it’s a pretty good night,” said Cape Bre­ton West MLA Al­fie MacLeod, who was among the politi­cians on hand for the an­nounce­ment. “ There will be some hur­dles that we have to meet but we will meet them as a com­mu­nity.”

Though the his­tory of coal in Cape Bre­ton dates back 250 years, the Donkin mine will be the first un­der­ground min­ing op­er­a­tion in Cape Bre­ton since the last shift at the Prince col­liery in Point Aconi in Novem­ber 2001.

Erin Pottie - Cape Bre­ton Post

Chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer of Xs­trata Coal Jeff Ger­ard, right, fields ques­tions from a large crowd gath­ered at the Donkin fire hall Wed­nes­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.