Donkin Mine at stand­still

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE sharon.mont­[email protected]­

Of­fi­cials with the De­part­ment of Labour and Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion have not yet con­ducted an un­der­ground in­spec­tion of the Donkin Mine fol­low­ing a roof fall on Dec. 28.

“Our staff haven’t in­spected it yet but are plan­ning on go­ing un­der­ground very shortly,” said Scott Nauss, se­nior di­rec­tor of in­spec­tion and com­pli­ance.

Nauss con­firmed such an in­spec­tion is dan­ger­ous es­pe­cially where the cause of the roof fall has not been de­ter­mined.

“We wanted to give the com­pany some time to get the area sta­bi­lized be­fore we sent our own in­spec­tors in (the mine).”

He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will also in­volve gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion from the em­ploy­ees who work in the area in ques­tion.

The de­part­ment of labour suspended the un­der­ground min­ing op­er­a­tion at the mine fol­low­ing the De­cem­ber roof fall.

There were no min­ing op­er­a­tions un­der­way at the time of the in­ci­dent be­cause the mine was on hol­i­day shutdown. There were no in­juries.

Nauss added that although there have been six roof falls at the mine since July, the Dec. 28 roof fall is the only one which re­sulted in the sus­pen­sion of pro­duc­tion.

“This is the first time we suspended the ground con­trol per­mit which led to the sus­pen­sion of op­er­a­tions at the mine,” he said

“This roof fall was se­ri­ous and given the his­tory and this be­ing the sixth one we de­cided it was time to take the se­ri­ous mea­sure of re­vok­ing the ground con­trol per­mit.”

Nauss said in the other cases mea­sures were put in place, for ex­am­ple, work­ers were not al­lowed in the area of the roof fall dur­ing the cleanup or the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been com­pleted, the cause de­ter­mined, and cor­rec­tive mea­sures put in place.

He said coal min­ing is the most heav­ily reg­u­lated pro­fes­sion in Nova Sco­tia.

“There is an ex­ten­sive reg­u­la­tory regime. Ev­ery piece of equip­ment used un­der­ground needs to be ap­proved. We in­spect the mine more than any other job site in Nova Sco­tia.”

Shan­non Camp­bell, vice-pres­i­dent of the Donkin Mine, re­cently blamed the roof fall on ad­verse ge­o­logic con­di­tions be­yond the com­pany’s con­trol.

In an emailed state­ment to the Post, Camp­bell said they are con­tin­u­ing to work closely with the de­part­ment of labour but do not know when the mine will re­open.

“We are work­ing dili­gently to en­sure that the ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures are in place to op­er­ate the mine safely.”

Camp­bell said be­fore Christ­mas they had 128 work­ers at the mine.

“We have since called back all but 18 work­ers to per­form rou­tine main­te­nance, up­keep the mine and sur­face fa­cil­i­ties and in­stall ad­di­tional ground sup­port. The re­main­ing 18 work­ers on lay­off are wait­ing for fur­ther work to be ap­proved by the De­part­ment of Labour and Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion.”

Camp­bell said the laid off work­ers re­ceived the pa­per­work to ap­ply for em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance on Wed­nes­day.

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