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New ground control plan for Donkin mine not yet submitted to province

The gates leading to the Donkin mine are shown in this file photo,
The gates leading to the Donkin mine are shown in this file photo, - Cape Breton Post

Mine will not be able to operate until suspension is removed

DONKIN, N.S. — The province’s Minister of Labour and Advanced Education says  a new ground control plan has not yet been submitted to the department by the operators of the Donkin mine, following a roof collapse last month.

“They’re working towards getting the mine safe again and then at that point we’ll go in and inspect it and move from there,” Minister Labi Kousoulis said Thursday during a post-cabinet conference call and scrum.

Labi Kousoulis
Labi Kousoulis

As a result of a roof collapse at the mine on Dec. 28, the Nova Scotia Department of Labour suspended the underground mining operation.

Scott Nauss, senior director of inspection and compliance with the Department of Labour, has said there were no mining operations underway at the time of the incident because the mine was on a holiday shutdown. No injuries were reported.

Kousoulis said he was unaware whether any inspectors have been underground since the shutdown began. The company has not indicated when it intends to submit its plan.

The department has issued an order for an assessment of the ground control to determine the cause of the incident and to impose a system to rectify it. The mine will not be able to operate until the suspension is removed or a new ground control procedure is approved by the department.

There have been six roof falls reported at the Donkin mine since July.

Kousoulis said he has concerns about the mine, noting it is under the seabed.

“Let’s be frank — it’s a very high-risk environment and in terms of what happened, I’m pleased that there were no injuries or fatalities,” he said. “But there is always concern with it, that’s why it is actually inspected constantly, it is inspected by appointment as well as surprise by inspectors. And it’s probably the most-inspected workplace in the province.”

The Donkin mine is owned by Kameron Collieries, a Halifax subsidiary of the Cline Group, and coal production began in February 2017. During the mine’s first three-and-a-half months of operations, 10 compliance orders and 29 warnings were issued for violations of workplace safety and underground mining regulations were issued by the Department of Labour.

The department has described the orders as mostly non-imminent danger violations.

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nancy.king@cbpost.com

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