Minister of transportation says coal road to be built for Donkin Mine
The province’s minister of transportation says a coal transportation road for Kameron Collieries will be built along the former rail bed traveling behind Glace Bay — south of Dominion Street — and exiting behind the Sydney Airport.
“We are currently doing a traffic study in partnership with Kameron to determine whether the exit will be onto the old Sydney airport road or the main airport road,” said Geoff MacLellan.
“Obviously there will be signification complications turning trucks onto the highway so we have to manage that transportation aspect. We’re going to look at what the best option is not only for the truck traffic but also for the heavy traffic that accesses the airport on a daily basis. “
MacLellan said the Sydney airport road is a provincial road. He said once they receive a recommendation on the best option, they’ll reach out to the airport CEO Helen MacInnis and the airport board.
He said the route will continue through the Sydney Ports Access Road.
“The destination is Sydney harbour and the coal will be moved to international destinations from there.”
On Monday, MacLellan told the Cape Breton Post said the coal road — which will be seven kilometres long — is a partnership between Kameron Collieries and the province of Nova Scotia and they are currently working on a memorandum of understanding on the cost-sharing of the work.
He said the province will be largely responsible for the entrances of the road, as well as “the traffic study around Brookside Street, the traffic work around the airport, (and) lights onto the highway.”
He said Kameron Collieries will be responsible for the preparation, the tender and the investment of the actual coal road itself.
MacLellan said it’s a significant investment for Kameron.
“I obviously wouldn’t even have a cost estimate yet but it’s going to be a significant amount, several millions of dollars to say the least,” he said.
“The important thing is the mine could use the provincial roads but wanted to make this investment to mitigate some of the traffic congestion.”
MacLellan said Kameron Collieries has always focused on the need for an alternative coal route to avoid the heavily congested areas around Dominion Street in Glace Bay.
“This company has a long track record of working in communities across the U.S. and it’s always about the safety and mobility of the community. Avoiding residential areas to the extent possible has al- ways been a priority for them
MacLellan said once acquisition of the land needed has been finalized, Kameron will have to obtain a construction permit; construction could start as early as the spring or summer.
“When Kameron Collieries developed to acquire all this land they had to deal with three levels of government as well as private landowners. They did it fairly and certainly quickly as this is a priority for them.”
He said it’s estimated it will take five or six months to build the road and associated entrances.
However, MacLellan, said the construction has no impact on when the Donkin Mine will start production. He said in the meantime Donkin Mine has had the option of using the provincial grid and so could take any direction legally.
“There’s requirements and restrictions around trucking weights and things like that so obviously as long as they went by those parameters they can use any roads in the provincial or municipal grid.”
MacLellan said his sense is Donkin Mine is getting close to production.
“We’re in a critical time of buildup now and we’re anticipating production could start very soon.”
U.S. mining giant the Cline Group LLC gained full control of the Donkin Mine after purchasing a 75 per cent majority stake in the operation from Glencore Xstrata PLC and a 25 per cent interest from Morien Resources Corp.
The mine is owned by Kameron Collieries, a Halifax subsidiary of the Cline Group.
Jim Bunn, senior vice president of operations at Donkin Mine, said at this time they are extremely busy gearing up to open the mine.
“At this time we are very close to first production,” he said.
Bunn said through the permit Kameron Collieries has for the Donkin Mine, the company was not required to build a coal road but made a decision to do so.
“The expenditure demonstrates Kameron Collieries’ commitment to health and safety to the community and further commitment to the Donkin Mine project.”
He said, so far, through working with private landowners and all three levels of government, the company has purchased approximately 800 acres for the road and has also entered into land-use and right-of-away agreements.
As production ramps up, so does the employee list at the mine.
Bunn said there are currently about 64 people employed at the mine. He said 52 are either from Nova Scotia or have relocated to the province full time.
“The other 12 are mainly Americans and are currently working on permanent residency in the province. “
He projected approximately 135 people to be working at the mine in the near future.
“Some of those hires will be made this year, some in 2018 and even into 2019.”
Minister of Transportation Geoff MacLellan, left, and Jim Bunn, senior vice president of operations for Cutlass Collieries and CAO at the Donkin Mine, look over a map of the planned coal road route from the mine along the former railbed behind Glace Bay — south of Dominion Street — exiting behind the Sydney airport. MacLellan said Kameron Collieries could have used provincial roads but instead are making a significant investment to build a coal road to help mitigate some of the traffic congestion.