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Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project Point Aconi, Nova Scotia
Prepared For: Pioneer Coal Limited
Submitted To:
Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour
MAY 2006
REF. No. 850090A (2)
1.0   INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................................1
2.0   PUBLIC CONSULTATION................................................................................................... 3
3.0 GROUNDWATER..................................................................................................................4
4.0   SURFACE WATER.................................................................................................................6
5.0   TERRESTRIAL RESOURCES................................................................................................ 9
6.0 WETLANDS..........................................................................................................................10
7.0   AIR QUALM AND DUST ................................................................................................12
8.0 NOISE.....................................................................................................................................13
9.0   VISUAL IMPACT.................................................................................................................14
10.0   TRANSPORTATION ...........................................................................................................16
11.0   MINE DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATION..................................................................17
11.1   PREPARATION ................................................................................................17
11.2   MINING EXTRACTION..................................................................................17
11.3   PROGRESSIVE RECLAMATION...................................................................18
11.4   BLASTING .........................................................................................................18
11.5   POTENTIAL FOR SUBSIDENCE - HIGHWALL MINING .......................19
12.0   RECLAMATION .................................................................................................................. 21
12.1   SCHEDULE FOR MINE RECLAMATION ................................................... 22
12.2   LAND USE......................................................................................................... 22
12.3   TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS................................................................ 23
12.4   BENEFITS OF FINAL RECLAMATION ....................................................... 24
12.5   LONG TERM MONITORING......................................................................... 25
(following text)
Appendix A   Terms and Conditions of Approval
Appendix B   Environmental Protection Plan
Appendix C   Community Liaison Committee Materials (Previously Provided and Approved by NSEL) Appendix D   Dispute and Arbitration Policy
Appendix E   Wetland Compensation Plan
Appendix F   Initial Blast Design
Appendix G   Pre-blast Survey Area
Appendix H   Visual Impact Assessment
Appendix I   Reclamation Cost Estimate
Appendix J   Mi kmaw Knowledge Study
Pioneer Coal Limited (Pioneer Coal) is preparing to undertake the Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project at the Prince Mine Site in the Point Aconi Coal Resource Block, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Commencement of work on the site is subject to approvals from Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour (NSEL).
This project involves the operation of a surface mine to extract approximately 1.6 million tonnes of coal. Conventional surface mining methods, as well as innovative highwall mining methods using the NOVAMINER 2000, will be employed. Progressive site reclamation will occur with final reclamation to occur in 2012. The site location and existing features of the site are shown on Figure 1-1 and 1-2.
Prince Mine coal resources can play a significant role in the supply of indigenous coal in Nova Scotia. The use of indigenous coal resources in electrical generating facilities is a main principle of Nova Scotia's Energy Strategy. The undertaking will significantly improve future land use options in the project area via its reclamation program for the former Prince Mine Site. It was demonstrated via the Class I environmental assessment process that any adverse effects or significant environmental effects of the undertaking can be adequately mitigated.
This undertaking was approved by the Minister of Environment and Labour on December 28, 2005 in accordance with Section 13(1)(b) of the Environmental Assessment Regulations, pursuant to Part IV of the Environment Act subject to Terms and Conditions (Appendix A). The approval was based upon commitments presented by Pioneer Coal in the environmental assessment documentation, as well as the requirements as noted in the Terms and Conditions.
An Industrial Approval is required under Part V Approvals under the Environment Act. This document with its appendices, including the Environmental Protection Plan (EPP) in Appendix B, supports Pioneer Coal's Industrial Approval Application.
The organization of this document closely follows the Terms and Conditions and is supported by detailed attachments. These include the EPP and the Mi'kmaw Knowledge Study (MKS). All monitoring and mitigative measures are presented in detail in the EPP; however, the issues and approach are included in this
document with appropriate references to the EPP. As committed in the environmental assessment registration document, the final MKS was completed to satisfactorily address First Nations issues.
Formation of and consultation with the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) is a significant component of the Terms and Conditions. Pioneer Coal agrees that direct consultation with a CLC will create a better project and facilitate communication with the public. The input of the CLC was solicited as part of the Industrial Approval process.
As part of the Provincial environmental assessment, a public consultation program was completed. Though no formal consultation program was required for a Class I undertaking (other than Notice of Registration), Pioneer Coal felt it was important to consider public input in the initial planning of the Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation of the Prince Mine Site. Participants at the public consultation sessions (April 5 and April 6, 2005) were provided with information about the important role of the CLC as an opportunity to provide advice to the Proponent and allow a conduit for information sharing.
The CLC will serve as the primary method of public consultation during preparation for and operation of the surface coal mine and reclamation; however, members of the public and other stakeholders are also able to contact Pioneer Coal directly to request information. Pioneer Coal has previously provided NSEL with information on the CLC formation, membership and mandate. The information was reviewed and approved by NSEL.
The CLC is established based upon NSEL Guidelines for the Formation of a Community Liaison Committee, as well as the Terms and Conditions of Approval. The Terms of Reference are appended in Appendix C. The Terms of Reference reflect comments from NSEL and the CLC. NSEL has approved the CLC membership.
The CLC was formed and the initial meeting held on May 3, 2006 in Sydney. Information on aspects of the site operations specifically referenced in the EA Conditions was reviewed with the CLC with suggested modifications noted and incorporated into this IA Application.
Where equitable forum and discussion does not create a decision of the CLC, the regulators will have final authority where it is a regulatory issue. Otherwise, negotiation will occur directly with interested stakeholder(s). Ultimately, decisions how to mitigate and monitor any actual or perceived environmental and socio-economic impact will occur based on scientifically defensible information as outlined in the Terms of Reference.
The Dispute and Arbitration Process and Policy document is in Appendix D.
During the environmental assessment process, groundwater was identified as a valued socio-economic and environmental component, especially in terms of domestic wells. This concern was verified during the public consultation process.
Hydrogeological information from a number of sources identified in the ERD was reviewed to assist in the development of the groundwater aspects of the IA Application and the EPP. Local groundwater movement in both the surficial materials aquifer and the bedrock aquifer are highly controlled by topography and therefore moves in the central portion of the site towards the portal within 200-300 metres of the opening and then according to localized slopes towards the south and towards Morrison Pond for the western portion of the site. Pre-portal conditions most likely involved a northeast to southwest movement of groundwater in both aquifers. Data from long term monitoring wells in the Point Aconi area show fluctuations in bedrock of up to 10 metres through a year. All data available was reviewed and used in the development of the programs presented in the EPP.
The environmental assessment registration document (Section 4.4) outlines the regional hydrogeology, domestic wells and an initial drawdown assessment. Mitigative   measures   are   identified   in   Section,   Section   and Section   of   the   registration   document;   whereas   contingency   and reclamation planning are included in Section 7.2 and 7.3.1 of the registration document.
The homes within 800 metres of the mining block boundaries are shown on Figure 3-1 and distinguished by type of water supply (i.e., wells or municipal system). As the surface coal mine and reclamation project has the potential to lower groundwater levels, as well as impact quality of the groundwater, Pioneer Coal has completed additional assessments, baseline survey and detailed monitoring plans and contingency plans. These include:
   Detailed assessment of zone of influence on groundwater levels based on updated surface coal mine development and operation information;
   A plan for surveying domestic wells prior to mining activity;
   Monitoring and mitigation plans for groundwater protection; and,
   Water supply policy covering homes with domestic wells in the event that there is loss of quantity or quality caused by Pioneer Coal.
The zone of influence for drawdown associated with mine operations has been previously discussed in the environmental assessment registration document. Additional work was completed to further attempt to determine the potential drawdown zone including a review of NSEL observation well data located at Point Aconi (NSEL OBS WELL), data from Nova Scotia Power on their monitoring well network at Point Aconi (M-15) and domestic well information in the immediate vicinity of the mine site.
This information was used in the determination of the Water Supply Policy boundaries, the domestic well survey program, the groundwater mitigation measures and the groundwater monitoring program. These items, as well as the Water Supply Policy, are outlined in the EPP (Appendix B of this document).
The Water Supply Policy Boundary includes domestic wells within 800 metres of the site to the south and up to the Brogan Surface Mine limits to the north. The geographic area to which the Water Supply Policy applies is shown on Figure 3-1.
A domestic well survey will be completed within the boundary shown. The proposed domestic well survey plan will be submitted for a third party review. The third party reviewer will be selected in consultation with the CLC, and will also review the groundwater monitoring program as outlined in EPP. As per the 3.2 of the Terms and Conditions, results of the review shall be provided to NSEL and the CLC. The plans and programs will be modified as required.
In the event that groundwater monitoring shows a significant impact to domestic wells or surface water regime, a contingency plan has been created: This is outlined in EPP (sub-section 4.2) and the Site Contingency Plan in Appendix B of the EPP.
Surface water was identified as a valued ecological and socio-economic component during the environmental assessment process. Watercourses downgradient of the mining blocks include Morrison Pond, Morrison Brook, MacDonald Brook and Coal Hollow Brook. A presentation of the existing surface water regime can be found in Section 4.3 of the environmental assessment registration document and the corresponding text in the environmental assessment registration addendum. The local hydrology, topography and surface water management features are shown on Figure 4-1.
Quality and quantity of freshwater was identified as a valued ecological and socio-economic resource. These watercourses flow to the marine environment which also has ecological, social and economic value. As a result, protection of surface water via management, mitigation and monitoring is key. Section 6.2.2 of the environmental registration document identified the mitigative measures to protect surface water. These and the proposed monitoring plans are presented in the EPP (Appendix B of this document).
Surface water management and protection of receiving water during the development and operation of the surface coal mine and reclamation project at the Prince Mine site includes the following:
   Riparian buffer to a watercourse (minimum of 30 metres);
   Sedimentation control fencing strategically placed along land contours at the edge of any disturbed area;
Rock-lined perimeter ditch constructed around the active work areas as mining advances to collect surface water runoff, which is in turn directed to the underground workings;
   Temporary diversion berms and ditches used within the site to divert runoff away from the active mining areas, ensuring this water is kept clean;
   Placement area for topsoils, subsoils and waste rock will be within the site perimeter ditch;
   Pioneer Coal will mine through pit crops as part of operations. As a result, water should not migrate to pit crops;
Temporary erosion and sedimentation control measures as needed during site preparation (e.g., rock dams with geotextile, hay mulching, etc.);
   Clearing and grubbing occurring in stages following the work progression which will limit open areas;
   Surface drainage collection system via sumps from the active mining areas and ditching around the storage of waste rock, topsoil, and overburden;
   Collected water pumped from the active pit to the Prince Mine workings or to the existing Settling Ponds for treatment as required prior to discharge;
   Collected water in the active pit tested for pH prior to pumping; and,
   All water discharged from the Settling Ponds to meet established discharge guidelines and will be monitored as per EPP in Appendix B.
Surface water from site activities will initially be directed into the Prince Mine workings. Monitoring of the water level within the workings will dictate how long this can continue during the project. The water level is currently at approximately 280 metres below sea level.
Cape Breton Development Corporation (CBDC) presently monitor water levels within the Prince Mine. This information allows for an accurate timeline prediction of when the Prince Mine workings will be flooded. At present, the CBDC estimated date is 2012. Pioneer Coal will take over this responsibility and keep regulators informed of changes to overall trends in water level monitoring.
The settling ponds within the existing treatment plant will be operated at design discharge rates. These ponds have been in place since 1994. Coagulant will be added, if required; however, based on Pioneer Coal's past operating experiences, coagulant is not expected to be required to meet effluent objectives.
The drainage control system is designed for a storm with duration of 24 hours and a return period of 25 years. Settling pond capacity will be sufficient to capture the complete runoff from the associated active mining areas. The settling ponds are located on the west end of the existing Prince Mine Site. The exact location and relative size can be seen on Figure 4-1.
A three-pond arrangement is in place. The first pond in the arrangement is of square shape and has a capacity of approximately 17 million litres. Ponds 2 and 3 are rectangular and each has a capacity of approximately 13 million litres. The total storage capacity of the Settling Pond arrangement is approximately 43 million litres or 43,000 cubic metres; therefore, highly conservative sedimentation conditions will be provided at a maximum flow rate through the
ponds of 225 cubic metres per hour.   Under normal runoff conditions, the applied flow rate will be considerably less than the maximum design flow rate.
The ponds will be connected allowing for maximum retention time with one discharge point. All drainage ditching will be designed to maintain stable conditions to minimize erosion for the estimated peak flow rates of storm drainage. Long-term ditches will be rock lined to minimize erosion. Temporary diversion ditches and berms will be seeded and temporarily stabilized to minimize erosion during the establishment of vegetation. All water discharged from the site will be within applicable guideline limits.
The holding ponds and active pit areas will provide substantial containment capacity for storm runoff and for any other emergency situations that require holding of water prior to treatment in existing sediment ponds and discharge. During a significant storm event, runoff will remain in the pit until sediment ponds have cleared. The pits provide a significant storage capacity for unusually large storm events.
Baseline testing results for acid rock drainage (ARD) are contained in Table 3-1 of the environmental assessment registration document. As expected, the coal is net acid producing and the waste rock is net consuming using the acid-base accounting method.
As part of operations, the acidity of the water in the active pit sump will be tested. As well, additional acid consumption / production testing will be done to further determine the ARD potential of the overburden and host rock. This will be completed as part of mining operations.
Should ARD occur on the site, mitigative measures (e.g., lime addition to sediment pond) will ensure quality of water entering the receiving environment. Testing for ARD in the water collected in the pit will be completed prior to pumping.
A terrestrial habitat evaluation was completed as part of the environmental assessment processes (Section 4.6.3 in the environmental assessment registration document and the corresponding text in the environmental assessment registration addendum). Sensitive or rare species, flora, fauna (including migratory birds) and wetlands were identified as valued ecological and socioeconomic components. Wetlands are discussed separately in Section 6 of this document.
The surface coal mine and reclamation project has a potential to negatively impact terrestrial resources via disturbance during site activity (e.g., noise and dust) and habitat loss. Specific mitigative measures were presented in Section 6.5.3 of the environmental assessment registration document and the corresponding text in the addendum. Some mitigative measures are specific to terrestrial resources (e.g., prohibiting harassment of wildlife, exclusion zones around bird ground nests during the breeding season); however, many relate to mitigation and monitoring for dust, noise, etc. The mitigative measures and monitoring plans are included in the EPP (Appendix B).
The mining block contains wetland habitat that will be impacted by the surface coal mine and reclamation project. This includes a 7.3 ha treed bog (primarily within mining block 2), a 2.2 ha treed bog (primarily within mining block 3) and a 6.5 ha fen (portions within mining blocks 1 and 3). The 6.5 ha fen was identified on Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) wetland mapping, but not identified in the field. These wetland delineations are shown on Figure 6-1.
The existing wetlands are described in the environmental assessment registration document addendum (Section 4.6.4 and Appendix B). CMitigative measures are presented in Section of addendum. Protection of existing wetlands is key as wetlands have been identified as a valued ecological component; however, where the wetlands lay within the extraction footprint, removal is required for a feasible surface coal mine and restoration project on this site. This approach is in accordance with the NSEL Policy Respecting Alteration of Wetlands (March 1, 2006) and Wetlands Directive (1995)
As identified in the environmental assessment documentation, the site is well suited for appropriate replacement programs for the wetlands because the site:
   Receives abundant rainfall;
   Has a high diversity of wetland plant species present; and,
Has a number of soil types (organics and low permeability clay loam) amenable for constructing wetland habitats.
As shown on Figure E-1 included in Appendix E, a new shrub bog and shallow marsh are proposed within Mining Block 2. This proposed constructed wetland will compensate for the 7.3 ha and 2.2 ha treed bogs with equivalent or better wetland habitat as a commitment in the environmental assessment registration document.
The wetland compensation concept plan was developed on behalf of Pioneer Coal and is presented in Appendix E. This plan was reviewed with the CLC. It outlines the objective and approach to wetland compensation to achieve the underlying principle of "no net loss" of wetland functions.
Upon finalization of the wetland compensation plan, further consultation will occur with NSDNR. This will include field verification of existence of the 6.5 ha fen by NSDNR and determination of compensation plan, if appropriate, as well as advice on final details of its construction. Additional consultation will also occur with the community on site features.
The emissions of dust from the site are a specific concern to the adjacent residents. As such, air quality was identified as a valued ecological and socioeconomic component during the environmental assessment process. The existing air quality in the region is presented in Section 4.1.3 of the environmental assessment registration document and Section presents mitigative measures related to dust production.
Any impacts will be very local to the site and immediate residences and temporary. It is not anticipated that agricultural fields located approximately 1.5 km north of the site will be significantly affected by this operation given the distance. Emissions of combustion gases from heavy machinery also have potential to impact air quality.
Year round operations will require specific attention to dust (especially during summer months). Mitigative measures and monitoring will be completed to control and assess the issue. These mitigative measures and monitoring plan for suspended particulate are contained in the EPP (Appendix B of this document). The ongoing monitoring must allow a continual feedback to operations for evaluation of efficiency of mitigations.
A number of dwellings in the local area may be occasionally impacted by sound from the site, as well as by vehicular traffic to and from the site. As such, ambient noise levels were identified as a valued ecological and socio-economic resource in the environmental assessment process. The existing noise levels and mitigative measures are discussed on Section 4.2 and Section of the environmental assessment registration document, respectively.
Mitigative measures and monitoring will be completed to control and assess noise associated with site activities. The ongoing monitoring must allow a continual feedback to operations for evaluation of efficiency of mitigations. These items are presented in the EPP (Appendix B of this document).
The noises generated from activity associated with the mine site typically include:
Trucks and/or conveyor hauling material from the pit to overburden
   Mine trucks hauling waste to spoil piles;
   Removal of rock overburden (including blasting) to access coal resource;
   Reverse warning signals on mine equipment;
   Trucks associated with transport of coal; and,
   Non-mine vehicles delivering supplies to the site.
Blasting will only occur during daylight hours. Notifications and schedules for blasting are discussed in Section 11 of this document. These will be developed in accordance with the CLC. The initial blast design and pre-blast survey area are contained in Appendix F and Appendix G of this document. Blast designs will be completed prior to each blast and professional will confirm review in writing, which will be submitted to NSEL.
The potential visual impact of the project on the surrounding community, as well as visitors to the area, has been identified as a key socio-economic issue via public consultation. In particular, tourism is an important asset to the region. Several key tourism vantage points exist in the area - including Kelly's Mountain.
As such, a visual impact assessment was conducted for the proposed project. The visual impact assessment included:
   Selection of five key locations and vantage points (for both local residents and tourist's);
   Computer generation of future view planes with existing topography and proposed mine development and operation plans (including stockpile height and orientation); and,
   Assessment of visual impact and evaluation of potential mitigative measures, as required.
The results from this assessment are outlined in the table below.
Distance to   Direction to
View Point   Observed Point   Description
Observed Point   Observed Point
Location   (kms)   (degrees from   of View true north
Hwy162   Stockpile 1   1.0   13   Proposed stockpile obscured b trees
(near Prince Mine exit)   Stockpile 2   1.4   331   Proposed stockpile obscured b   trees and terrain
Stockpile 3   1.8   354   Proposed stockpile obscured b   terrain
Stockpile 1   2.2   200   Proposed stockpile obscured b   trees
Point Aconi Lighthouse   Stockpile 2 & 3   1.7, 2.4   228   Proposed stockpiles 2 & 3 obscured by trees and terrain
Alder Point   Stockpile 1 & 2   1.5, 2.6   293 (from Fish Plant)
Stockpile 3   2.3   308
Stockpile 1   8.8   127
Bird Islands (from water)
Kellys Mtn hookoff   I   Stockpile 2   1   17.0   1   61
Stockpile 2   1   7.8   1   128
Stockpile 3   1   7.8   1   122
Stockpile 1   17.5   63
Stockpile 3   1   17.5   1   59
Proposed stockpiles 1 & 2 obscured by trees and terrain
Proposed stockpile obscured by trees and terrain Proposed stockpile 30% obscured by trees. Visibility is limited by distance. Proposed stockpile 30% obscured by trees. Visibility is limited by distance. Proposed stockpile 30% obscured by trees. Visibility is limited by distance. Proposed stockpile 50% obscured by trees. Distance greatly limits visibility. Proposed stockpile 50% obscured by trees. _   Distance greatly limits visibility.
Proposed stockpile 50% obscured by trees. Distance greatly limits visibility.
As outlined, a number of the viewplanes that had negative impacts have been or will be mitigated. All of the stockpiles will be returned to the excavated area by the end of the project as well thus eliminating residual visual impacts once fully vegetated.
A computational visual impact assessment was not completed for adjacent residences. It is acknowledged that there will be some visual impact for these nearby properties (e.g., Forrest Lane). Pioneer Coal is committed to working with individual residents on this issue and will maintain buffers where possible to provide visual breaks where view planes of site operations exist.
The detailed visual impact assessment was presented to the CLC for comment. Pioneer Coal will continue to work with the CLC to minimize visual impact. Where possible, mine development and operation will minimize impact on both residents and visitors to the community; however, some short term residual impact to aesthetics is expected to remain at certain vantage points.
The complete visual impact assessment is presented in Appendix H.   The resulting mitigative measures are discussed in the EPP.
Coal transportation has potential impacts to ambient noise and air quality as well as impacts to local traffic patterns. All coal will be transported from the site in standard 35 tonne tractor-trailers via local roads suitable for transport trucks to the NSPI Generating Station located at Point Aconi and possibly other locations. All trucks not destined to the NSPI site would leave the Point Aconi area via the Prince Mine Road (Route #162). This route does not have any residents or businesses along it.
As such, Pioneer Coal is committed to ensuring that:
   Loaded trucks leaving the site shall be fitted with appropriate tarpaulins to minimize dust emissions and spillage;
   Transportation of coal from the site will be limited to between 0700 hours and 1800 hours, Monday to Saturday unless otherwise approved by NSEL; and,
   Site staff will ensure that trucks are clean and inspected prior to leaving the mine site.
The transportation route is shown on the Figure 10-1.
Preparation of the site for development of the mine includes the following:
   Delineation of the limit of site disturbance and placement of sedimentation and erosion control features;
   Construction of temporary diversion berms and ditches within the site to divert runoff away from the active mining areas, ensuring this water is kept clean;
   Construction of a rock-lined perimeter ditch to isolate and collect runoff from the active mining areas;
   Removal of infrastructure at the site with the exception of sedimentation ponds/treatment facility and CBDC mechanical shop. This includes proper disposal of material and grading / stabilization of area;
   Preparation of stockpiles as shown on Figure 11-1 Mining Sequence; and,
   All other monitoring and environmental protection features as outlined in this document and the EPP.
Once the site has been prepared, extraction activities will begin. Initially, the mine will be developed through the Water Level Tunnel along the eastern portion of the site (i.e., Excavation #1 and Stockpile #1 as shown on Figure 11-1). This is a potential highwall mining area and if conditions warrant, Pioneer Coal will highwall mine northerly from the established highwall as shown on the figure. The estimated volume of Stockpile #1 is 400,000 cubic metres.
At the west end of the site, conventional surface mining will commence and move in an easterly direction starting with Excavation #2. A boxcut will be removed and all excavated material placed in stockpile. As shown on Figure 11-1, the rock will be stockpiled outside the lowwall limits and the clay/ topsoil stockpile along the backside of the highwall. Estimated volumes are 1,150,000 cubic metres and 540,000 cubic metres.
This excavation is larger than normally required because there is a potential highwall mining area north of this excavation. As a result, a 50 metre section of
the excavation will remain open. If conditions warrant, highwall mining will take place within the area identified on the plan.
In Excavation #3, the rock will be placed into the immediate area of Excavation #2 leaving the western portion open for highwall mining. Then the coal can be extracted from Excavation #3.
While this is going on the clay/topsoil from Excavation #4 can be placed over the newly placed rock of Excavation #2. This material will bring the area back to the original grade. Contouring and stabilization can be preformed as part of reclamation.
These extraction and progressive reclamation operations will be continuous until project completion as Pioneer Coal has no planned shutdowns.
As such, progressive reclamation begins as the mining moves sequentially in an easterly direction across the site with Excavation #3 and subsequently Excavation #4 as illustrated in Figure 11-1.
Additional excavations or slices are removed in the same manner until the mining operations reach the eastern limit of the project. Each slice is approximately the same. The clay/topsoil, rock and coal volumes are similar (i.e., 35,000 tonne of coal, 70, 000 cubic metres of clay/ topsoil, and 200,000 cubic metres rock).
Once the eastern boundary of mining is reached, the rock and clay/topsoil stockpiles are placed into the remaining excavations. This includes the far west section left open for highwall mining. Operations will incorporate progressive reclamation and reclamation will be ongoing.
Blasting is required to remove the consolidated rock as part of ongoing operations. An initial blast design is included in Appendix F. Ongoing blast designs will be completed and reviewed by a qualified third party. NSEL will receive written documentation of this process. Pre-blast surveys will be completed in an 800 metre radius of the blasts as identified in Appendix G.
Domestic well surveys are discussed in Section 3 of this document.   All blasts will be monitored as per Provincial requirements.
An average of three to four blasts per month are expected during mining operations. Pioneer Coal will determine the most appropriate timing through advise of the CLC. This will include a plan for notification of the public (e.g., neighbours). As well, climatic conditions will be assessed prior to conducting any blasting (e.g., via Environment Canada or Nova Scotia Power Point Aconi facility).
The Dispute and Arbitration Policy in Appendix D will address potential concerns associated with blasting, including flyrock, structural damage or domestic well issues.
The physical properties of the overburden strata are the most important factors that control the shape and size of the deformation or subsidence pattern. In general, when the strata are strong and hard the rock can be expected to support itself for periods of time without fracturing. Small openings have a greater potential to be self supporting indefinitely.
After extraction of a section of coal of sufficient width all the overlying strata are subject to various degrees of movement from the mined area upward through the waste rock strata including the unconsolidated overburden or soil. According to the movement characteristics, the effected strata can be divided into four zones extending from the (coal) mine opening upward.
Soil Zone   This is the surface layer the depth of which depends on location; it consists of soil and weathered rocks.
Continuous Bending (Deformation) Zone Strata between the fractured zone and the surface bend downward without breaking. Their continuity and thus the original features remain. Occasionally, impermeability is temporarily lost and then recovered after mining.
Fractured Zone   This zone is located immediately above the caved zone. The basic characteristics are strata breakage, and loss of continuity, but the stratified bedding remains. The severity of strata breakage reduces from the bottom of the
zone to the top. The porosity and permeability of the strata will increase greatly. The combined height of the fractured zone and the caved zone is in general 20 to 30 times the mining height. The height of the fractured zone for hard strong strata is larger than that for soft and weak ones.
Caved Zone After the extraction of coal, the immediate roof caves irregularly and fills up the void. The strata in this zone not only lose their continuity completely, they also lose their stratified bedding. The caved zone is normally 2 to 8 times the mining height depending on the properties of the immediate roof and overburden.
With the highwall mining method and if the extraction ratio is low, (i.e., 50% t) pillars can support the overburden without collapse. An engineered design for zero subsidence will properly determined the size of pillar required to support the overburden weight of the roof strata. There will be no surface subsidence. Pioneer Coal has utilized highwall mining at other sites over the last six years. There is no evidence whatsoever of any subsidence. In the US, literature reports that under prevailing mining conditions (i.e. no pillar extraction), the extraction ratio is usually less than 50% and generally no surface subsidence occurs. Whether surface subsidence occurs depends on whether the remaining pillars can support the overburden or not.
Project managers have considered the possibility of subsidence in the overlaying strata in the Point Aconi highwall extraction areas. The apparent strength, natural fabric and structure of the strata couple with the mining depths suggest the effects of subsidence will be negligible.
The primary goal of Pioneer Coal's reclamation plan is to return the land to a state that is safe, stable and compatible with the surrounding landscape and final land use. The plan was completed in accordance with Nova Scotia Environment & Labour, Guide for Surface Coal Mine Reclamation Plans (November 2005).
Ongoing reclamation will occur at the site as mining progresses as it is fully integrated with mining operations. Following an expected mining period of seven years, the final reclamation on the site is expected to occur in the year 2012. Reclamation will include contouring overburden, placing of topsoil and revegetation as per Figure 12-1.
Ultimately, the site will be stabilized to minimize erosion and the overall drainage pattern will be restored. Site drainage will be planned to direct approximately the same volumes of water flow to the downstream watercourses as existed prior to this development. The Wetland Compensation Plan will be integrated into final detailed reclamation plan developed in consultation with land owners (including the Province) with advice from the CLC. Because the majority of the site is Crown land, Pioneer Coal is constrained from defining the ultimate land use of this site after the completion of mining activities. Final reclamation activities will be completed with input from land owners. The final land use planning of Provincial Crown lands will be resolved within the NSDNR Integrated Resource Management (IRM) process.
The plan will mitigate existing safety hazards and adverse potential environmental effects. As the development and operation of the surface coal mine incorporates a progressive reclamation approach, land is reinstated early in the project life as part of the on-going operations. The obvious benefits to this approach include the early establishment of vegetation, thereby minimizing the time and effort required to completely stabilize the site once mining is complete. As well, establishing vegetation early in the project allows Pioneer Coal the ability to continually evaluate its growth and make adjustments as required. The initial reclaimed area for this project will have four years growth before Pioneer Coal completed mining operations.
Reclamation of existing CBDC infrastructure will begin with the start of site operations. Removal of the existing infrastructure will be continuous until complete. Pioneer Coal Ltd. plans to keep the former CBCD Mechanical Shop (recently purchased by Pioneer Coal) in place and the existing water treatment ponds and related treatment building. All else will be cleaned up as part of start up. At final reclamation, these features will also be removed and surface restored.
Progressive mine reclamation will begin in year two of the mine development plan. A boxcut will be developed at the western boundary of the site. This material will be stockpiled and used to reinstate the final excavations of the mine plan. Additionally, overburden materials from the next cut easterly will go into stockpile. As a result, no progressive reclamation will take place until this boxcut is complete and the described overburden is removed and stockpiled.
Subsequently, progressive reclamation will begin. Rock excavated will be placed directly into the open area to the west. Overburden from the next mining block easterly will be placed on top of this reinstated rock. At this point, the surface is within the original contours and grade and the area can be shaped and stabilized.
This cycle is continuous throughout the life of the project. During the last year of the project (anticipated as year seven), the stockpiled material from year one will be placed in the final excavations at the eastern boundary of the property.
At the anticipated recovery rate of up to approximately 350,000 tonnes annually, final reclamation and closure will take place during year seven of the project. Due to progressive reclamation, some areas will have been restored and vegetated for up to four years at the end of year seven.
12.2   LAND USE
At present the project area has a limited usage. A portion of the area is an abandoned industrial site. The footprint of the Prince Mine is delineated by a chain link fence. The fence prevents the inadvertent entry of persons onto the site. For the most part, underground mining operations stopped and the infrastructure remains.
A portion of the land is forested with fairly even aged mixed hardwood and softwood stands. This area has historically been the location of bootleg coal mining. In its present condition, land is unsafe due to subsidence, near surface workings and related shafts. These bootleg areas have been abandoned with debris present from both past bootleg mining activity and more recently drop off of debris.
Mill Pond Road/Sherri Lee Lane runs east to west across a portion of the site. A portion of the road will be removed and reconstructed as part of the final site reclamation plan.
No features of environmental significance is noted in the mine boundaries. Wetland significance was presented in the environmental assessment addendum. Wetlands compensation is addressed in Section 6 of this document. The final reclamation includes restoration of removed wetland habitat within the site.
Potential land use options on any given site may be limited or controlled by technical, economic, social, political or other factors. All such factors and influences must be considered in the land use planning process. It is unrealistic to believe that all disturbed land should, or could be developed and managed for tangible economic benefits. Equally unrealistic is the notion that all disturbed land remains unproductive for many years into the future.
Reclamation can be broad in scope incorporating a number of potential land uses. With proper planning, typical restoration functions such as backfilling, recontouring and revegetation can enhance the area. Land uses may include complete reforestation and revegetation, development of natural areas and ecological reserves, potential use as residential, industrial, recreational or agricultural sites. Given owners, location and surrounding land uses, the final reclamation is expected to include: a reinstated roadway; a constructed wetland complex to compensate disturbed bog; and, a safe, contoured grassed land with some additional plantings.
Science and technology allow operators and industry professionals to study the existing site, project the evolution of mine development and consider alternatives for optimum reclamation and use before and during the various stages of development. Some of these factors include:
Conduct representative soil sampling to determine soil conditions and recommend amendments;
Test plots to determine which plant species are recommended for reclamation of this site, what type of preparation and planting schedule is required and how best to integrate a planting program with the ongoing operation and future land usage. Pioneer Coals' approach to reclamation planning encourages the selection of native species. Re-vegetation will mimic surrounding non-disturbed areas;
Determine the potential for the planting of seedlings and hardwood/ softwood saplings in specified areas; and,
   Conduct a survey to determine areas for potential reforestation.
A detailed cost estimate associated with reclamation is contained in Appendix K.
The end result of the surface coal mine and reclamation project at the Prince Mine Site is a stable, safe property that is:
   contoured, vegetated and does not contain a safety hazard to visitors;
   maintains similar biodiversity as per existing land; and,
   does not pose a threat to the received environment via surface water run off.
At present, all surface water runoff from the abandoned Prime Mine is directed into the old workings. A portion is directed by way of gravity feed and the rest is gathered and pumped to the workings portal opening. The existing water control system will no longer work when the workings flood, and the impacted surface water will flow into the receiving water untreated. Reclamation of the lands addresses this potential environmental problem.
A waste rock stockpile remains as a result of past mining operations. Volume is approximately 250,000 cubic metres. Contaminated runoff from this pile is presently directed into the workings. This will have to be addressed once the workings flood. Reclamation of the lands addresses this potential environmental problem.
Pioneer Coal is committed to completion of a long-term post-reclamation monitoring program. The objective of this program is to monitor the success of reclamation. This is further discussed in Section 3.3 of EPP.

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Revised: 11/17/06 18:38:21