BY SEA OR RAIL?

Trans­porta­tion mode for Donkin coal re­mains a mys­tery

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE smont­gomery@cb­post.com

All pos­si­ble modes of trans­porta­tion still on the ta­ble at Donkin Mine.

By sea or rail — that is still the ques­tion.

Var­i­ous modes of trans­porta­tion to move Donkin coal are on the ta­ble, said Ge­off MacLel­lan, min­is­ter of busi­ness, en­ergy, trade and Ser­vice Nova Sco­tia.

“There’s the short-term con­ver­sa­tion about the roads now and then comes the long term, whether barge or rail, and exploring all op­tions.” MacLel­lan, who is also the Glace Bay MLA, said whether Donkin coal is moved by barge or rail, it will re­quire a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment.

“If there’s a heavy de­mand in the next two decades and the com­mod­ity price for coal re­mains rel­a­tively high (Kameron Col­lieries) are go­ing to have to look at a longterm op­tion and no one has ruled out the ex­plo­ration of barge or the ex­plo­ration of rail,” he said.

MacLel­lan said there will be a lot to con­sider.

“What’s the value of coal in five years, 10 years and 20 years and is it still fea­si­ble they’d want to move large quan­ti­ties from Cape Breton to the world mar­ket where it’s needed for en­ergy and steel mak­ing?”

When Kameron Col­lieries ob­tained the Donkin Mine lease, barg­ing was built in as a trans­porta­tion op­tion.

Although in prin­ci­pal Kameron has a green light to ex­plore the barge op­tion, MacLel­lan said tech­ni­cally there would be a need for a timetable, an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment and pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions.

“Even though it’s built into the lease, they’d still have an in­cred­i­ble num­ber of hoops and pro­cesses to go through be­fore they could ac­tu­ally get it ap­proved,” he said.

“Nei­ther op­tion is en­tirely off

the ta­ble it just be­comes what can we do in the short term to so­lid­ify the mine to es­tab­lish the mar­ket to make sure we are get­ting the prod­uct to mar­ket in early days and the only way to do it at this point is by way of the roads,” he said.

“There’s a mar­ket now and we know the price is rel­a­tively high and that’s the short term of truck­ing … to get it to the world mar­kets.”

Kameron Col­lieries, in part­ner­ship with the prov­ince, is build­ing a road along the former rail bed be­hind Glace Bay and south of Do­min­ion Street ex­it­ing be­hind the Syd­ney air­port. Prepa­ra­tion work to the en­trances and ex­its is ex­pected to start soon.

Although he con­firmed fig­ures of es­ti­mated costs have been dis­cussed, MacLel­lan said no def­i­nite fig­ures have ever been cal­cu­lated.

“What­ever route, it would cer­tainly be in the tens of mil­lions (of dol­lars) but there’s no spe­cific num­ber,” he said. “Es­tab­lish­ing a barge sys­tem or putting the cargo on rail would be an ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment. We’re still a long ways away from hav­ing an es­ti­mate on ei­ther op­tion.”

Shan­non Camp­bell, vice pres­i­dent of project devel­op­ment and ex­ter­nal af­fairs for Kameron Col­lieries, said at this time the mine own­ers are fo­cus­ing on the devel­op­ment of the un­der­ground op­er­a­tion and com­mis­sion­ing of the coal pro­cess­ing plant.

“It is early days for the mine and there are many things that need to be done and fig­ured out be­fore de­ter­min­ing the best method for trans­porta­tion of the coal.”

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