Donkin Mine is good for Cape Breton
Just over a year ago I moved back home to Cape Breton to work at the Donkin Mine. I’ve had my eye on the project for years. It has been a long time coming and much needed in our area.
Kameron Collieries acquired the project from Xstrata four years ago and has been working hard to develop the site based on the prior extensive engineering and planning work. All the necessary approvals were granted by the federal and provincial government after public consultations in line with the ‘Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Nova Scotia’s Environment Act.’
Those approvals included a marine loading facility as the primary method for transporting coal from the mine. At the start of that process there were three options evaluated - rail, trucking and marine. There simply isn’t a business case for rail. It is too expensive and the permitting and build-time required would take years. We’re currently trucking all coal from the site and have begun building a new self-funded, by-pass road from Brookside Street to the base of Sydney-Glace Bay Highway near Old Airport Road. This will reduce truck traffic through Reserve Mines. We are committed to looking at other additional improvements along the route to minimize impacts for neighbourhoods in close proximity.
The environmental assessment for the marine option has already been approved but more detailed design and permitting work is now needed. The next step is to complete a small geotechnical drilling program like the geotechnical drilling recently completed in Sydney Harbour for the second cruise berth. We would use a barge, a drill and a supply boat over two days to drill five holes, each being four inches wide and 20 feet deep to determine the next step in our design.
This planned work has already been reviewed under the Fisheries Protection Program through Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The review concluded that this minimal drilling would not result in serious harm to aquatic life.
Our team at the mine couldn’t be more appreciative of the support we’ve received from Cape Bretoners. I’m proud of the commitment of our workforce who continue to develop their skills, increase productivity and contribute meaningfully to our local economy. We have a wellestablished Community Liaison Committee and a Fishers Liaison Committee to allow for information sharing between the mine and local residents and members of the fishing community. We’ve held several additional meetings with the local fishers to give them an opportunity to express opinions, to have their recommendations considered, and to ensure they’re given the chance to help shape the design of the marine operation as it moves forward.
My career has taken me to mining communities across this continent. Growing up in South Bar and going to school in Sydney, I could only hope that one day I would have this opportunity to do what I love, at home. When I was at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish and at TUNS in Halifax watching the industry transform it became clear my career would keep me away from the Island that first taught me about mining. Like so many of the people now working at the Donkin Mine, I had to leave my family and friends to “go where the work was.”
The Donkin Mine has changed that for me and for many on our team. We are all very appreciative of this opportunity and committed to growing the operation, increasing production, supporting our families and community and doing it in a way that is respectful to those with questions and concerns along the way.