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This page contains links and excerpts of "misinformation" from the NS government's press releases and official documents that ex-Premier Hamm said are nothing "to become unnecessarily concerned" about!
Please also read the
News articles and Letters and Status Reports page, then send your Comments

"Canadians have a fundamental right to know what their government is doing to protect the environment and promote sustainable development."- Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Responses to Petition #202 due September 20, 2007 under the federal Auditor General Act:

“In the present case, based on information provided to the Department for review, DFO determined that the project was not likely to result in harmful alteration, disruption and destruction (HADD) of fish habitat and therefore no authorization under subsection 35(2) of the Fisheries Act was required, and furthermore, the proponent has not requested one. Without a subsection 35(2) Authorization, DFO did not require a federal environmental assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.” "Environment Canada and the provincial NS DEL are responsible for regulating discharges into the aquatic environment. My honourable colleague at Environment Canada will be responding to this question."
- Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, received 09/20/07

(Note: NS Environment Department (NSDEL) did not know about this unmapped brook on the NSDNR Crown land prior to issuing it's approval of Pioneer Coal's strip mine.)

"The discharge from the under-drain collection system associated with the settling pond on the former Cape Breton Development Corporation Prince property has a neutral pH and therefore cannot be referred to as ARD." "the results did not provide evidence of a violation of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, as the samples were determined to be non-acutely lethal."
- John Baird, Minister of Environment Canada - 01/10/07

(Note: NSDEL did not know about the pre-existing "orange precipitate" prior to issuing it's approval of Pioneer Coal's strip mine.)

"In 2004, Devco retained the services of Public Works and Government Services Canada to manage the Prince Mine Baseline Environmental Assessment and in this role, my department contracted an outside firm to conduct the work. The resultant report was provided to Devco, and I have been advised that the Minister of Natural Resources, who is responsible for the Corporation, will be responding to all of your questions, with the exception of question 8, which falls within the mandates of the Ministers of the Environment and Fisheries and Oceans."
- Michael M. Fortier, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, dated 20/09/07

(Note: NSDEL did not review the federal 2004 environmental assessment of the Prince Mine until June 2007, long after issuing its approval and Pioneer Coal began strip mining the site in September 2006.)

"The sale of the Cape Breton Development Corporation's (Devco) land at the Prince mine site to Pioneer Coal did not trigger a federal environmental assessment because Devco was not subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act at the time of the conveyance."

(Note: Devco sold the Prince to Pioneer on June 6th, 2006, Devco properties became subject to federal environmental assessment on June 11th.)

"Devco is responsible to address residual liabilities associated with former coal related activities, including environmental obligations associated with its properties. The former Prince mine site is no longer owned by Devco."

"The Prince Mine site is no longer owned by Devco. Full disclosure of environmental issues was provided. Prior to the sale Devco removed most of its buildings and any toxic materials from the site." "The total size of the Prince mine property sold to Pioneer Coal was 224 acres."

"In 2005, clean up of the Prince site was estimated by Devco to cost $6.6M. The site has been transferred to the private sector for a planned mining operation. Mining will result in the site being remediated during the mining/reclamation operation. As a result, no moneys were allocated to the clean-up of the site."

(Note: In addition to the federal Crown Devco land, NSDNR gave Pioneer Coal access rights to strip mine 61 hectares of the provincial Crown land from the Prince Mine to the shore and out under the ocean. Under NSDEL's approval, prior to any mining activity Pioneer "must post a bond for approximately $5 million with NSDNR to cover issues related to restoration and final reclamation". Instead, an "interim performance bond" was finally posted in August 2007, since then hundreds of acres of healthy crown woodlands and wetlands have been destroyed and excavated at the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes.

What's there to stop the province of Nova Scotia from strip mining other federal Devco properties?
Response: "The Province of Nova Scotia is the owner of the coal under Devco lands and has the ability to solicit tenders to explore and develop the coal properties. Strip mining of coal under Devco lands would require access to Devco lands either through a sale or a lease process. Devco would ensure that any requirements under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act relating to these activities are met."- Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources Canada - 01/10/07

22 September 2007 Update:

PRINCE MINE BASELINE ENVIRONMENTAL SITE ASSESSMENT report done in 2004 for Public Works Canada by MGI, the same consultant who did Pioneer Coal's Environmental Assessment Registration Document of their Prince Mine project for NSEL in 2005.
SQUELCHED - Despite the fact it ought to be public, Devco refuses to release it. NSEL's "Professional departmental staff obtained a copy of the document and are in the process of evaluating the information." - June 2007

APPLICATION FOR INVESTIGATION under Section 115 of the NS Environment Act was submitted 28 January 2007, District Manager's long overdue response received July 3rd, 2007.
WHITEWASHED - According to NSEL: Devco's Prince Mine was conveyed to Pioneer Coal on 2006-06-06 (before the Warranty Deed was signed); the NS Natural Resources crown land was conveyed on 2007-03-12 (six months after Pioneer commenced activity); the NSPI property was bulldozed to gain access to a monitoring well; Pioneer infringed on a previously unidentified wetland; there is no Acid Mine Drainage at the Prince Mine; a possible leak or breach in the liner are influencing the under drain water chemistry and hence the orange precipitate; removal of a bulk sample from the site will require an Approval prior to such removal

SUPREME COURT APPEAL Date pending for Appeal to NS Supreme Court under Section 138 of the NS Environment Act of Minister's decision to approve the Prince Mine project at Point Aconi.

ENVIRONMENTAL PETITION to the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development under Section 22 of the federal Auditor General Act as listed in their Petitions Catalogue:

Issues: Environmental assessment, natural resources, other, and water
Petitioner(s): Citizens Against Strip Mining in Cape Breton
Date Received: 8 May 2007
Status: Reply (replies) pending
Petition No. 202 - Environmental damage and remediation at former federal mine sites
Summary: The petition concerns contamination of the Prince Mine site in Nova Scotia, formerly owned by a federal Crown corporation. The petitioner raises a variety of questions about federal funding and responsibility for remediation of the site. The petitioner also expresses concern about negative environmental consequences arising from plans by a private company to strip-mine the Prince site and inquires about subjecting the project to federal environmental assessment.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply:
Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada

Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project
- Prince Mine Site (grey area), Point Aconi Resource Block lease area (outlined in red)

Proponent: Pioneer Coal Ltd.
Location: Point Aconi, Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia
Purpose:The purpose of the proposed undertaking is to undertake a surface coal mine and reclamation project at the Prince Mine Site in the Point Aconi Resource Block, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The project would consist of the extraction of approximately 1.6 million tons of coal over a 7 year period, including complete reclamation of the 210.7 hectare site (Outlined in Yellow)
Project Status: Industrial Approval permit issued September 12, 2006

Project and Related Documents::

On July 16, 2003 the federal Cape Breton Development Corporation (Devco) relinquished its coal lease for the Sydney coalfields and surrendered the lease to the province. On December 5, 2003 the province issued a call for proposals for exploration, development and reclamation of coal resources for four (4) areas of Cape Breton located in Point Aconi, Boularderie Island, Broughton, and Birch Grove. On May 21, 2004 the province accepted proposals from three companies for the claim blocks. Pioneer Coal was granted the exclusive right to apply for a Special Mining Lease for the Point Aconi resource block and did so on January 6, 2005. On April 14, 2005 the Governor in Council authorized the granting of a Special Lease for Coal.

On June 1, 2005, Pioneer Coal submitted an Environmental Assessment Registration Document for a proposed "Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project" "at" Devco's old Prince Mine site in Point Aconi. The N.S. Department of Environment accepted public comments on the project from June 01 to June 16, 2005. In its Executive Summary, Pioneer Coal states the purpose of the project as such:

"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."

On June 27, 2005 the Minister of Environment and Labour released a decision on this review. The Minister decided that the registration information is insufficient to allow him to make a decision and that additional information is required in accordance with Section 13 (1)(a) of the Environmental Assessment Regulations.

On July 14, 2005, as a result of public pressure, area MLA Cecil Clarke finally held information workshops and a public meeting on the project at Memorial High School in Sydney Mines during which the public was told that "no is not an option".

Because so many individuals and community groups expressed concerns about adverse and environmental effects of the project, the Dept. of Environment commissioned Jacques Whitford to carry out a cumulative effects study of the areas proposed for strip mining. This study on Surface Coal Mining Cumulative Effects in Cape Breton Regional Municipality was released on October 13, 2005.

Consequently, on December 2, 2005 the Dept. of Environment announced "several changes" made in response to the study of the cumulative effects of surface coal mining on the island, in particular that "approvals for surface coal mining applications in Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) will have a greater emphasis on restoring disturbed land to its former or other productive uses." Nevertheless, on the same day that this new Guide to Surface Coal Mine Reclamation Plans and the Surface Coal Mining Action Plan were released:

On December 2, 2005 Pioneer Coal registered its Additional information as an addendum. NS Department of Environment accepted public comments for the project addendum until December 16, 2005.

With the new Action Plan and Guide to Surface Coal Mine plans quickly forgotten, on December 28, 2005 the Minister of Environment and Labour released his final decision on the project. The Minister has decided to approve the undertaking in accordance with Section 13(1)b of the Environmental Assessment Regulations, pursuant to Part IV of the Environment Act "based upon the review of the conceptual design, environmental baseline information, impact predictions, and mitigation presented in the Registration Information" and subject to a number of Conditions.

On January 27th, 2006 area MLA Cecil Clarke told a meeting of concerned citizens and their representatives that the federal government had allocated $150 million to clean up Devco mine sites and if the money was on the table then the debate would be different.

Despite unanimous opposition from area residents and their elected representatives and candidates at all levels of government, on March 10, 2006 Pioneer Coal president John Chisholm said the company is proceeding with the project and applying for an operating permit and plans to begin strip mining "in a couple of months" even though "there is no market for the coal".

On April 4th 2006 the provincial government issued a press release stating that "the province is scaling back the size of a lease area for a surface mining project at Point Aconi, while putting 13 other potential surface coal mining projects on hold for three years". "Once the company receives industrial approval from the Department of Environment and Labour, it will be able to mine the full area for which it applied. However, that area is only 58 per cent of the block originally tendered by the province. No applications had been made to the Department of Environment and Labour to mine the remaining area. Thirteen other potential lease sites from the former Devco lease will be put on hold for three years."

News articles of Minister Taylor's private press conference in Sydney on April 4th 2006 report that: "Pioneer Coal of Antigonish has so far received provincial industrial approval to develop a surface mine in Point Aconi, Mr. Taylor said. The proposed site, on 288 hectares of what is now mostly wetlands and forest near the defunct underground Prince mine, had been 42 per cent larger before Monday’s announcement and contains multiple shallow coal pits illegally dug by hand over the years."

Look at any one of the many maps that clearly outline Pioneer's proposed strip mine and coal lease areas. If any one can find a shred of evidence that a single centimetre of any of those boundaries have been "scaled-back" then please send it to!

On June 13th 2006, 15 out of the area's 16 candidates campaigned against strip mining, including two newly elected Conservatives.

Ignoring the facts and the will of the people and their other elected represenatives, on September 13, 2006 the Nova Scotia government announced that they have issued an industrial approval for Pioneer Coal to strip mine Point Aconi!

Note that contrary to the impression that Nova Scotia’s Ministers of Energy and Environment and Natural Resources are all still giving the public that Pioneer Coal’s project is “at the Prince Mine site” the fact of the matter is: “The proposed project lies to the immediate west and east of the closed Prince Mine underground coal operation. The mineable resource area (approximately 85 ha) extends from the Prince Mine approximately 1100m westward (toward the Atlantic Ocean and vicinity of Morrison Pond) and approximately 300m eastward (intersection of Point Aconi Road and Prince Mine Road).” (Page 6, Pioneer Coal's Environmental Assessment Registration Document (EARD) Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project – Prince Mine Site)

Current surface land ownership within the site area:
Land OwnerLand owned (in hectares)
NSPI 27.2
NSDNR 90.9
CBDC 76.8
Private land owners 15.8
TOTAL 210.7 hectares
Source: Page 16 Pioneer Coal's EARD
View of the site area's woodlands and wetlands looking East, old Prince Mine in upper right

"Daily operational requirements are 24 hours a day for five days a week, with occasional Saturday, as required. There is no seasonal variation expected with this schedule. Without the ability to operate 24 hours/day on the surface coal mining operation, there is reduced employment levels, the project takes place over a longer period of time in order to complete the mining and reclamation, the coal resource will not be maximized because of future reductions in SO2 emission levels and the economics of the project will be negatively impacted to the point of not being feasible." - P. 22 Pioneer's EARD


Note that contrary to the impression that Nova Scotia’s Ministers of Energy and Environment and Natural Resources are all still giving the public that Pioneer Coal’s project will reduce the need to import clean coal:
MR. LANGILLE: The coal in Cape Breton, obviously you're trying to buy coal from other parts of the world to lower sulphur content. There's a bit of a resurgent with strip mining in Cape Breton. Are you going to use Cape Breton coal even if it has a higher sulphur content?
MR. TEDESCO (Chief Operating Officer, Nova Scotia Power Inc.): We would be pleased to consider any local coal and ultimately, I think just as you suggest, it's a question of its environmental attributes and price. Now, one of the things that, in answer to a question earlier, I mentioned there are certain technologies where you can burn these higher sulphur coals cleanly and then the question simply becomes what is the cost of say putting on a flue gas desulphurization system, which you can think of as a large box on the back of the power plant that takes out sulphur dioxide, what is the cost of that combined with say a lower cost fuel versus simply buying a lower sulphur fuel in the first place and if it can be done economically, then we would certainly support that. (Halifax, June 29, 2004, Standng Committee on Resources)

The lands of former coal producing areas that still belong to CBDC, including the Point Aconi Coal Resource Block, are yet to be reclaimed and remediated of the environmental and hazardous conditions. Reclamation mining can provide some of the coal supply required by NSPI, as well as provide an economical means of site remediation of the areas of past surface and underground mining operations.- P. 20 Pioneer's EARD

NSDNR has presented the prospect of new surface coal mining operations as encompassing “reclamation mining” opportunities. (NSDNR recognizes that this does not apply to the Boularderie claim block). Reclamation mining, in this context, is surface mining that removes dangerous underground mine workings and/or bootleg surface workings in the process of extracting near surface coal resources. - P. 16 Cumulative Effects Study

The Point Aconi block contains the now closed Prince Mine which operated between 1975 and 2001. Pioneer Coal Ltd. proposes to reclaim this site as part of their surface coal mine development project. During its operation, acid mine drainage was treated in a facility on-site. The Point Aconi block is peppered with abandoned and or active illegal pits which may be a source of acid drainage. - p. 94 Cumulative Effects Study

The land is currently owned by Cape Breton Development Corporation who operated the Prince Mine between 1975 and 2001. (In 2002 CBDC did Phase I, II, and III Environmental Assessments) The site includes surface infrastructure, settling ponds and ARD treatment facility, and 5.7 acres of waste piles from the underground operation. The site also has a very high concentration of bootleg pits along the Hub Seam outcrop. - p. 163 Cumulative Effects Study

The Point Aconi site will mine the Hub Seam outcrop, which is the topmost seam. The Hub seam was originally mined from 1861 to 1875 when it was closed due to fire and from 1903 to 1919 by Dominion Coal Company with a 36.5 m deep shaft at Table head (Frost 1964). This colliery had an average of 1.4 m thick coal, and extended 9000 ft seaward, and included mining of the approximate 0.5 square mile section on land (possible subsidence risk). The mine is now flooded at least to sea level (JWEL 1993). Several collapse features, and sea water intake tunnels associated with the Hub seam are known to occur in the Table Head to Point Aconi area. - p. 106 Cumulative Effects Study

East of the five existing entrances to the underground mine (portals), surface water enters bootleg pits, drains into the Water Level Tunnel and gathers at the water pumping station and then directed into the Prince Mine underground workings. This water is highly acidic and cannot be discharged into the environment untreated. This water is presently stored in the workings; however, ultimately, the storage capacity will be reached (in 2008) and a sustainable solution will be required. Surface mining through this area and subsequent backfilling will eliminate the present requirement." -p.12 Pioneer's EARD

One of the most significant environmental concerns around coal mining and aquatic environments is acid mine drainage (AMD). The influx of untreated acid mine drainage into streams can severely degrade both habitat and water quality often producing an environment devoid of most aquatic life and unfit for desired uses.

Pyrite (yellow and lustrous form of iron disulfide) which often occurs in coal and overlying strata, when exposed to air and water, oxidizes, producing iron and sulfuric acid. Ferric iron, when discharged to surface water, hydrolyzes to produce hydrated iron oxide and more acidity. The acid lowers the pH of the water, making it corrosive and unable to support many forms of aquatic life. Acid formation is most serious in areas of moderate rainfall where rapid oxidation and solution of exposed minerals can occur. Various impacts range in severity from isolated nuisance type problems to severe water quality impacts affecting large volumes of groundwater and miles of watercourse. Impacted uses include agricultural (irrigation and livestock), industrial, and potability of water supplies along with recreational uses, scenic resource appreciation, and aquatic organism habitat. The aggressive nature of mine drainage may also result in corrosion and encrustation problems with respect to such structures as pipes, well screens, dams, bridges, water intakes, and pumps. Acidic mine drainage in particular can also be toxic to vegetation when recharging to the shallow groundwater system and soil water zones. - p. 96 Cumulative Effects Study

Based on 1:50,000 scale topographic mapping, the Point Aconi block encompasses coastal marine environments, five catchment areas for four unnamed watercourses, and one small pond within the block. The unnamed watercourse, on the western boundary of the block area contains a large ponded featured, Morrison Pond. These watercourses are first order streams, and all draining directly to seawater. There are likely many more watercourses in the block that are not indicated on the mapping. The presence of several bogs and a fen suggest that these wetlands drain via unidentified watercourses. p. 88 Cumulative Effects Study

The surface subsidence following longwall deep mining can dewater stream reaches and divert flows into different surface stream channels that are not adjusted to such increased flows. Altered patterns and rhythms of delivery can be expected as well as changes in water quality.

The backfilled, reclaimed surface mine site creates a, porous "geological recharge area" where infiltrating water percolates through the fill to emerge as a seep or a spring. Often, these are very acidic and will flow even when drought conditions dry up natural waters. Additionally, many receiving streams have naturally little alkalinity (<10 mg/l), and great volumes or distances are required to neutralize even small mine flow that may carry 1,000 mg/l or 2,000 mg/l of acid. Many small streams, even though they are low in alkalinity, are valuable trout streams.

Even with current regulations, all types of surface mining can affect fish and aquatic resources through erosion and sedimentation, dewatering of wetlands, diverting and channelizing streams, and contaminating surface water and aquifers with toxic chemicals. - p. 95 Cumulative Effects Study

The main potential groundwater impacts from surface mining in this area is possible impacts to domestic wells along Highway 162 on the southeast and east portion of the block. These wells would be recharged from the vicinity of the Power Plant, and west of Highway 162. Mining on the northwest portion of the block should be less disruptive, however sea water intrusion into the excavation may be a concern. Depending on site conditions, acid generating waste rock may be generated, and ARD impacts to surface water and groundwater may need to be implemented. Subsidence issues need to be addressed northeast of the Hub seam. Unsaturated mine workings are known to occur in the vicinity of the power plant in the northwest areas. - p. 106 Cumulative Effects Study

Surface coal mining can have an adverse effect on local groundwater resources. Effects may be both physical, such as water table lowering with possible loss of supply, or chemical, such as acid drainage or temporary to permanent degradation in aquifer water quality. - p. 110 Cumulative Effects Study

Surface coal mining is not identified as one of the planned land uses by the CBRM (B. Spicer, pers., comm., 2005)

An expansion of the existing mine in the Point Aconi block as proposed by Pioneer Coal can be expected to come in conflict with surrounding uses of the land. There are residential structures nearby, east of the current mine site and Pioneer is proposing to negotiate purchase of some these homes because the coal seam to be mined extends underneath these homes.

Although there is no tourism infrastructure in this block, visitors do make their way to the Point Aconi lighthouse to the north of the block. Ciboux Island and Hertford Islands, also known as Bird Islands, are an eco-tourism attraction of some renown and are located approximately eight kilometres away. - p. 117 Cumulative Effects Study

Surface coal mining can affect the transportation network. These effects can be broadly classified as short and long term effects. In the short term, adverse effects are expected since traffic associated with coal developments are likely to place increased demand on local roads and associated infrastructure. Based on Pioneer Coal’s and Thomas Brogan and Sons’ environmental registrations approximately 50 trucks (35 tonne tractor trailers) are expected from the Point Aconi block and surrounding area. Other operations similar in scope to Pioneer Coal can be expected to generate similar truck traffic volume. Furthermore, the presence of large coal trucks may also pose safety hazard to existing traffic

The wear and tear on the transportation infrastructure cannot be mitigated except through road repairs and improvements and may represent a long term adverse effect.. - p. 121 Cumulative Effects Study

Nova Scotia also receives royalties of dollar per tonne of coal mined. Based on the estimated coal on four resource blocks the total royalties can be estimated to be approximately 9 million dollars (NSDNR 2005; NSDNR 2003a). - p. 121 Cumulative Effects Study

Numerous small shafts and pits, as well as a few slopes, are located on the Hub Seam to the west of the Prince Mine and attest to bootleg mining activity. Significant bootleg activity has also occurred in the vicinity of the Water Level Tunnel east of the Prince Mine Site. Given the historical bootlegging on the site in the past, a serious safety hazard exists. The proposed undertaking, which includes final reclamation, provides an excellent opportunity to reduce the safety risk to the public and restore the lands to a usable state. - p.21 Pioneer's EARD

The impact of historical activities in the region on cultural resources are difficult to assess. Based on the archaeological and heritage screening, it is predicted that no impacts to cultural resources will occur as a result of the proposed undertaking. - p.91 Pioneer's EARD

The four proposed resource blocks are located in rural unserviced areas of CBRM. Any residences in these areas would be serviced by on-site water supply wells and septic disposal systems. Depending on proximity of proposed surface mines, these water supply wells could theoretically be at risk from mine associated activities, notably lowering of the water table, and possible water quality changes. There are also three surface public water supply watersheds in the vicinity of the Birch Grove claims area; these are MacAskills Brook Reservoir, John Allen Lake, Sand Lake and Schooner Pond. –P. 101 Cumulative Effects Study

This regional groundwater flow pattern may be disrupted or dominated by abandoned mine workings, which act as secondary permeability in the bedrock. Ground subsidence and increased shallow bedrock fracturing associated with underground workings near coal seam sup-crop areas results in increased rates of vertical infiltration, and a drain effect if workings are not saturated. -P. 105 Cumulative Effects Study

In the Bouladerie Island Block, the main issues with respect to surface mining in this area include potential dewatering of domestic wells located along the two roads between Millville-Boularderie and Mill Pond, and potential for interference with the Point Aconi Industrial Well Field located on Highway 162 at the east side of the block. Note: There have been historical issues in the Millville area with respect to past surface coal mining operations by NOVACO (NSDEL/A. Cameron circa 1980-1885). The interactions with the NSPI well field may be mitigated in that the proposed mining is limited to the Upper Morien coal-bearing bedrock. However, some hydraulic interaction could occur. Depending on site conditions, acid-generating waste rock may be generated, and ARD impacts to surface water and groundwater may need to be implemented -P. 108 Cumulative Effects Study

In the Birch Grove Block, Glace Bay, Dominion, Reserve Mines and surrounding communities are serviced by Sand Lake and the MacAskills Brook Reservoir. Sand Lake is located 500 m north of the mining block and the MacAskills Brook Reservoir is less than 300 m from the northwest corner of the block. The rural community of Birch Cove is serviced with a water distribution system derived from John Allen Lake located 1.2 km southwest of Birch Cove, and 300 m from the southwest boundary of the mining block. Schooner Pond, located approximately 7 km northeast of the mining block, serves Donkin. These surface water supply systems are operated by the CBRM.

The mining block is less than one kilometre from three water supply reservoirs. Attention would be needed to prevent any effects on these water bodies, including effects on water levels and from sediment and acid runoff. Morrison Lake is in the middle of the site, and would need to be protected from mining operations. P. 109 Cumulative Effects Study

In some cases, it may be feasible to provide a large storage tank and provide regular fill up with quality municipal water. While this would not be considered as a permanent option, it may be be an interim option in some situations. The storage could be installed in a basement or buried in the ground, and should be of sufficient capacity to provide at least one week of supply (e.g., about 7000 L (2000 igal) assuming 1000 L/day/residence) (most 4 person residences use, 200 igal per day). Where practical, an effective approach is to connect the affected residents to the local municipal water supply distribution system. None of the four proposed sites is close to a municipal system. This may be feasible for some wells near Birch Grove. Depending on economics, a final option may be to purchase and remove affected properties. –P. 114 Cumulative Effects Study

Municipal Perspective

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality Council is on record as being very concerned about future surface coal mining activities in the municipality and earlier this year passed three motions that: - support Citizens Against Strip Mining; - request amendment of the Environment Act or its regulations to prohibit issuing surface coal mining approvals within a public water supply watershed area; - authorize the Planning Advisory Committee to investigate options to use existing powers under the CBRM regional plan or to request additional powers from the Province to “create enhanced restrictions on the issuance of permits for the operation of Strip Mines”; and - explore options in Provincial legislation that could give CBRM decisionmaking power to “prohibit strip-mining activities in CBRM, and in particular watershed areas.”

However, at least one councillor has expressed guarded support for the continuation of surface coal mining, under stringent conditions, because it does provide much needed local employment and has the potential to stabilize hazardous sites.

The Municipality of the County of Victoria has also passed a motion opposing surface coal mining. A small portion of the Boularderie claim block lies within Victoria County.

CBRM is concerned that the Province did not consult with them before putting the four claim blocks up for tender. Representatives suggested that this was likely related to the current levels of tension between the municipality and the Province on a number of issues and particularly CBRM’s stated intention to take the Province to court over municipal funding levels. By contrast it was pointed out that Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), acting on behalf of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, has established good communications with the Council including briefings for Council as a whole each year and in advance of any new remediation activities, and briefings for individual councillors as appropriate. PWGSC is managing remediation projects for CBDC at coal-impacted sites throughout CBRM

Local opposition to surface coal mining threatened at one point to derail the completion of the new regional plan for the municipality. Many residents found it difficult to believe that the municipality has no control over surface coal mining and other extractive activities, and came out in force at regional planning consultation sessions to express their opposition.

In broad terms, municipal staff have indicated that surface coal mining is not compatible with the new identity and development directions supported by CBRM. Industrial development in the past had significant impacts on environmental quality and landscape integrity, but this was accepted as the price to be paid for employment and community prosperity. This attitude has changed. CBRM has “turned the corner on coal” and wants to put the “dirtier” past behind them. It was pointed out that while Nova Scotia Power burns three million tonnes of coal a year, the surface coal resources in CBRM are only a “drop in the bucket” and that CBRM would not want to base their economic development strategy on the development of this limited resource, especially as there appear to be are few secondary and tertiary development opportunities associated with surface coal mining. Surface coal mining would likely not increase municipal revenues and could increase costs through wear and tear on roads, possible decreases in property assessments, and conflicts with other developments.

Protection of water supply areas is an important issue for the municipality, which has nine surface water supply watersheds and one well field. Only one surface water supply watershed, Sand Lake, is a Protected Watershed. The others are only protected by the regional plan. Potential conflicts between water supply protection and surface coal mining were flagged as being particularly prominent in the Birch Grove and Broughton areas.
- p. 25 Cumulative Effects Study

If Nova Scotia's environmental asssessment procces is a complete farce and Pioneer Coal's proposal is a done deal in Halifax then so are all these other sites at the tip of the iceberg:

"In 2003 NSDNR prepared a confidential planning document that identified ten possible future claim blocks with significant near surface coal resources, and laid out a possible strategy to tender the blocks in three phases. While this document was never adopted as an official plan and was therefore not released, it has nevertheless been widely circulated and the contents are public knowledge." - P. 27 Cumulative Effects report - Coal related sites in industrial Cape Breton   Map of sites

Phase 1 Tender CallPhase 2 Tender CallPhase 3 Tender Call
Boularderie Island
Point Aconi
Birch Grove
Port Morien
Bras d'Or
Donkin Village
Gardiner Mines

On December 5, 2003 the province issued the Phase I call for proposals for the four claim blocks located in Boularderie Island, Point Aconi, Birch Grove, and Broughton areas of Cape Breton Island:

Detailed map of Point Aconi and Boularderie Island coal resource blocks outlined in the government's Phase 1 Call for Proposals to "surface" mine and "reclaim"

Map of Birch Grove and Broughton resource blocks outlined in the government's Phase 1 Call for Proposals to "surface" mine and "reclaim"

Point Aconi Resource Block
Pioneer Coal Ltd. was awarded sole rights to make application for the mineral rights to the coal within the boundaries of the Point Aconi Resource Block. Since the rights were awarded, Pioneer Coal has applied for and has been granted a Special Lease for development of a surface coal mine in a portion of the block, north east of the former Prince Mine underground coal operation. Further, Pioneer Coal has submitted an EA registration document, pursuant to the Environmental Assessment Regulations, for approval to develop the site. The Minister of Environment and Labour has requested additional information regarding this submission. The proposed project is the development of a surface coal mine and includes reclamation of a large number of bootleg pits as well as the above ground workings of the former Prince Mine. The proposed project area is approximately 85 ha with a production rate of 350,000 tonnes per year (1,350 tonnes per day) and 1.6 million tonnes over the life of the project (2005 to 2012). This relatively high production rate is attributed to the use of a highwall miner. No processing of coal at the site is proposed. Excavation may occur as deep as 30 to 45 m below the surface. It is proposed that reclamation of the site be undertaken progressively (i.e., backfilling of one box cut as the next one is excavated). In addition to the typical activities described in Section 3.0, purchase of residential properties is required along Forest Lane and Point Aconi Road. The operating schedule proposed for this project is 24 hours a day, five days a week, with occasional Saturdays, as required. It is anticipated that the mine will operate year round. - p. 59 Cumulative Effects Study

Many individuals and organizations are energetically opposing the proposed project. Issues raised include concerns about: effects of drawdown, blasting and potential contamination on groundwater; effects on local farming and fishing operations; visual impacts and consequent effects on tourism; impacts on surface water quality and on wildlife habitat; and long term reclamation prospects. Residents also refute the need for remediation of hazardous areas, maintaining that this is only being used as an excuse to justify more strip mining. They have stated that if the area is indeed hazardous, it should be CBDC’s responsibility to take action to remediate it. - Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

Boularderie Island Resource Block
Coastal Construction Ltd. was awarded sole rights to make application for the mineral rights for the coal within the boundaries of the Boularderie Island Resource Block (outlned in yellow). Since the rights were awarded, Coastal Construction has applied for and has been granted a Special Licence for the exploration of coal on the eastern portion of the resource block. It is unlikely that the remainder of the block will be developed due to the level of residential development and private land ownership as well as the number of watercourses in the area. The proponent has yet to submit applications for drilling, excavation, and bulk sampling.

Within the area covered by the Special Licence, the potential surface coal mine development is uncertain; however, there are certain features within the licence area that may limit development such as: active agricultural lands, a power transmission corridor, and an important haul road. Also located just south of the licence area are Nova Scotia Power Inc. water supply well fields. As such, there is only a limited amount of land that may be mined at some point in the future. A plausible development scenario within the Boularderie Island Resource Block could include development of the land between the haul road and the eastern boundary of the Special Licence area, avoiding the large watercourse and farmland; and also potentially development of the land between the haul road and the western boundary of the Special Licence area avoiding disruption of the power transmission corridor and farmland. As noted in Section 2.2, however, the Minister of Energy stated publicly that development would not be permitted west of the power corridor.

It is anticipated that the proponent will extract the coal using large dozers, excavators and rippers. It is likely that extraction will be over a period of five to seven years. The likely hours of operation are twelve hours per day, five to six days per week, year round. The yearly extraction volume is not known but will not likely exceed 150,000 tonnes. There are no known opportunities for reclamation mining associated with this development. - p. 61 Cumulative Effects Study

(Note: During the information workshops on July 12th in Sydney Mines Don Jones, Natural Resources spokesman, said the coal in Coastal Construction's resource block was high in suphur, very high in ash, and "the biggest challenge is to find a viable buyer".)

Birch Grove Resource Block
Thomas Brogan & Sons Construction Ltd. was awarded sole rights to make application for the mineral rights for the coal within the boundaries of the Birch Grove Resource Block (Figure 5.1 and Figure 3 Appendix A). Later, NSDNR revoked this right and did not approve the application for Special Licence submitted by the proponent. As a result, the development originally proposed by the proponent will not proceed. Of the four resource blocks tendered, Birch Grove is known to have the highest quality coal (i.e., lowest sulphur content) and many opportunities for reclamation mining; however, given the limited potential for development (see below), NSDNR does not anticipate that the resource block will be tendered again.

For the purpose of this study, it is assumed that there is potential for this project to proceed. The Birch Grove Resource Block contains many waterbodies and is adjacent/abutting two surface water supply areas. There is also a relatively large amount of residential development immediately adjacent to the coal seam. As such, development opportunities are limited. Figure 3 (Appendix A) identifies four relatively small areas for potential development; two along the Gowrie Seam and two along the Spencer Seam. Development in these areas would allow for reclamation of bootleg pits, and reclamation of an old wash plant which contains stockpiles of acid producing material.

It is anticipated that the coal would be extracted using large dozers, excavators and rippers potentially extending to a depth of approximately 30 m below surface. Given the equipment to be used, it is anticipated that the production rate could be approximately 150,000 tonnes per year over a period of five to seven years. The likely hours of operation are twelve hours per day, five to six days per week, year round. - p. 62 Cumulative Effects Study

Broughton Resource Block
Pioneer Coal Ltd. was awarded sole rights to make application for the mineral rights for the coal within the boundaries of the Broughton Resource Block (Figure 5.1 and Figure 4 Appendix A). Since the rights were awarded, Pioneer Coal has applied for Special Lease for development of a surface coal mine in a portion of the block. This application is currently under review. To date, the proponent has not yet filed an environmental registration for a development in the block.

Given the limited residential development in the resource block and the orientation of the coal seams, it is reasonable to assume that a fairly significant portion of the block could be developed at some point in the future. There are also opportunities for reclamation of the surface workings associated with three former underground mines.

A reasonable development scenario within the Broughton Resource Block could include development of a 300 to 400 m wide area along the Tracy Seam, and potentially another along the MacDonald Lake Seam. The developed area could yield a production rate of up to 350,000 tonnes per year. This relatively high production rate is considered appropriate given that the proponent has access to a highwall miner. Excavation may occur as deep as 30 to 45 m below the surface. It is likely that extraction and reclamation will be undertaken progressively (i.e., backfilling of one box cut as the next one is excavated). - p. 62 Cumulative Effects Study

In 1999 H.W. Phillips and Sons Construction Ltd. carried out a bulk sample operation in the Broughton area on Federal Crown land that was the location of the Four Star and Beaver underground mines. These mines have produced and continue to produce significant quantities of ARD (acid rock drainage) that is affecting local wetlands and surface water. Reclamation of the bulk sample site has not been completed and the pit was left open for a number of years. The operator was allowed to delay reclamation because they indicated that they still had plans to file a proposal for a surface coal mine in this area. A reclamation plan was finally filed in the summer of 2005 and the operator has just begun to fill in the pit. From a community perspective, this situation was seen as being completely unacceptable. The pit was viewed as a considerable hazard, and there are concerns that acidic water in pit has migrated into the groundwater, and that contaminated water in a holding pond has flowed into a nearby wetland and beyond. - Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

In addition to the potential or proposed developments described above, there are a number of other likely future surface coal mines within CBRM, yet outside of the tendered resource blocks. These developments are described below:

Pioneer Coal, Gardiner East

Opened in 1986 and closed in 1992. Highwall auger tests were conducted in 1992. Company is presenty accessing acid rock drainage in main pond - P. 27 Coal related sites in Industrial Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, November 2003

The surface coal mine at Gardiner East, near the community of Reserve Mines, was operated between 1986 and 1992 by Pioneer Coal who owns the site. They produced 709,000 tonnes from the Gardiner and O’Dell seams. This large site was re-contoured, leaving a lake in the centre, and efforts have been made to establish a vegetation cover. After seeding, grass grew well for about five years and then suffered a significant setback. Plant growth is now somewhat patchy but there is significant shrub growth and some trees. The water in the lake on the site is highly acidic (likely around 4.5 to 5.0 pH) but this is consistent with other natural lakes in area. Surface drainage towards the lake appears to be dropping iron precipitate around its margin. Pioneer returned to the site in 2004 and added straw mulch and seeds to this area, with limited success.

However, from a community perspective, some residents see this site as “a complete mess”. During the operation of the mine there were complaints about blasting impacts. Residents complained of damaged wells, cracked basements and air concussion impacts. A report commissioned by the provincial government and prepared by Nolan Davis questioned these claims on the grounds that the geological structures in the area could not have transmitted blast effects very far from the mine site. Residents also believe that proper reclamation has not taken place, and that the site will neither regain productive ecological status nor be useful for residential/commercial development, especially as the government no longer holds a reclamation bond. There is cynicism about Pioneer’s recent efforts to address local ARD, which have been interpreted as a public relations measure to support Pioneer’s other surface coal mining proposals. - Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

Halfway Road (Tobin Road)
The Tobin Road/Halfway Road site was the location of extensive underground mining. Eight collieries were located within the boundary of the current parcel of Provincial Crown land, and a further three collieries were located on adjacent land. The site has also been extensively bootlegged; over 200 abandoned illegal mine openings have been documented. Underground mining finished in 1963 and the site is largely reforested through natural regeneration. The potential near-surface coal resource is estimated at 100,000 tonnes. Cape Crushing received approval to conduct two 5,000 tonne bulk samples in 2003. T. Brogan and Sons carried out the work on behalf of Cape Crushing. When it became obvious that the coal at the first bulk sample site on the Stony seam had been largely mined out the balance of the 5,000 tonnes was reallocated to the second site on the Collins seam. The bulk sample activity remediated some of the hazardous old mine openings and under workings. Reclamation has not been completed on these sites. Some of the topsoil was spread and the areas seeded earlier this year but almost no growth has occurred. The current plan is to re-seed the site. DNR supports the concept of surface coal mining on this site, in part in order to remove the hazardous old workings.

From the community perspective, this is a highly contentious potential project. A small, informal group of residents, originally opposed to surface coal mining plans in this area, is now promoting site remediation through surface coal mining. The group is critical of industry practice to date and what they see as a lack of government enforcement. Issues relating to the bulk sample sites at Tobin Road/Halfway Road include the way the access road was developed and the lack of effective remediation. But the group has also been working with DNR on developing future land use concepts for the area, which could include reclaiming areas of land for community use, reconfiguring the boundaries of a scrapyard that has encroached on Crown land, developing a central pond/wetland system, intercepting ARD (acid rock drainage) from the adjacent old Tom Pit Mine and redirecting it to an engineered wetland. These concepts would require the development of partnerships and the infusion of additional resources, over and above DNR’s usual reclamation requirements. - Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

Point Aconi Phase 3
Brogan Mining carried out surface coal mining operations on this site from 1977 to 1993, producing a total of 636,000 tonnes. The land is owned by Brogan Mining and by other private owners. Brogan Mining was not allowed to excavate over the Prince Mine slopes while the mine was active. Subsequently, in December 2004, Thomas Brogan and Sons applied to remove a further 50,000 tonnes from this area. The Minister of Environment and Labour concluded in January 2005 that the Environment Assessment Registration Document did not contain sufficient information.The project is not yet approved. DNR considers that the older part of the site has now been remediated, and the reclamation bond has been released.

Community members feel strongly that the reclamation is inadequate, even though most of the area is now revegetated. Fishers also reported that the mining had caused significant siltation over productive lobster grounds in that area.
- Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

- Point Aconi Phase 3 Surface Coal Mine
- Registration Document (PDF: 7.3mb)
- Minister's Decision (PDF: 63k) 

Greenhills Development
A small surface coal mining project is proposed in Florence, on private land (several owners, but mostly in one family) that was the location of the old Florence Colliery, active between 1901 and 1961.There are extensive under workings in this area but little bootleg activity. In 2000, the King family registered a project proposal to remove coal (mainly crown pillar removal) from the Harbour Seam. The project was released from environmental assessment in the same year but the project was delayed by the need to secure markets. An application for an Industrial Activity permit has now been received by NSEL. The original time frame was 18 months, but the current plan is to mine approximately 30,000 tonnes of coal annually for four years. The proposed project is limited in scope. A total of 28 acres would be disturbed, excavated to a maximum depth of 60 feet, mining would be seasonal, and no blasting would be involved. The proponent indicated that they have secured the support of the local community through public and individual meetings, and the creation of a community liaison committee. Feedback received during the study, however, indicated that at least some people in Florence were unaware that the project had passed through environmental assessment, did not know what was being proposed and had significant concerns.- Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

Little Pond
Two collieries operated in the Little Pond area, followed, in the 1940’s and 50’s by an early surface coal mine operated by Mills Mining. DNR tendered this resource in 1998 to facilitate reclamation of an unreclaimed site assumed by the province from Sysco.

Between 1998 and 2005 Thomas and Richard Brogan operated a surface mining operation in the South and Central divisions of this area, which is partly provincial Crown land and partly owned privately. Mining activity has produced a total of 40,000 tonnes.

Originally, with DNR approval, the operator had also planned to mine the North division of the Little Pond site, otherwise known as Merritt Point. However, they began excavation before receiving required permits from NSEL and the work was eventually stopped and the operator fined under the terms of the Environment Act. They are also now required to reclaim this area under a court order and have recently started to dewater the pit. - Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

On January 20th 2006 Brogan Mining issued a "bulletin" on the Meritt Point Reclamation stating that the Court Order for completion by June 27, 2006 "does not impede an application for any recovery of coal". Brogan is applying to excavate an extra 5,500 tonnes of coal and lists "providing revenue for the company during completion of reclamation operations" as one of the benefits. "Brogan Mining has recently changed their key officers to complete this critical stage of the work, with Cordelia Reashore as President."

"For example, Devco surface mined an area at Alder Point in the early 1970's. Today this site is fully restored with mature trees growing where the mine was excavated and then back filled"
- Richard Hurlburt, Nova Scotia's (Ex?) Minister of Natural Resources in the Cape Breton Post, February 11, 2006

Photo from Coal related sites in industrial Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Ministry of Natural Resources, November 2003

Cape Crushing, Alder Point
Cape Crushing is currently actively mining this site at Alder Point and has been producing about 8-10,000 tonnes of coal a year, which is being sold to Devco to meet their commitments to provide low-cost coal to Devco pensioners. - Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

Toronto Road
Brogan Mining operated the Toronto Road surface coal mine from 1994-98, removing 99,000 tonnes of coal. The operator originally talked about creating a golf course on this site but this has not proceeded. The area was reclaimed and DNR released most of the reclamation bond in 2000, but is reassessing the status of the reclamation. - Appendix D Cumulative Effects Study

In addition, NSDNR's November 2003 report on Coal related sites in industrial Cape Breton lists a number of other CBDC sites within CBRM yet "To be Reclaimed":

CBDC's Princess Colliery, Sydney Mines
Closed at the end of December 1975. Coal wash plant operated from 1980 to 1990 to recover coal fines from the Princess dump. CBDC initiating study of mine water levels in the Sydney Main seam Princess and Florence Collieries)- p. 11

Summit Dump, Scotchtown
Coal wash plant operated by Selminco from 1982 to 1987. Site was amended with peat, limed and hydroseeded over a numbr of years concluding in 1994. CBDC Environmental Asessment to include Dominion #12, #16 and #18 sites which are downstream. - p. 13

CBDC's #1A Colliery, Dominion
Main drainage point for a number of collieries in Glace Bay and Dominion. A series of wells have been sunk by CBDC to monitor rising water levels. Ultimate hope is to allow deep mine water in 1B system to overflow here - p.16

CBDC Neville Street well field, Reserve Mines,
Purpose is to regulate the release of mine water from underground mine workings beneath Glace Bay, Dominion and Reserve Mines. Poor water quality may have effected the local lobster fishery. Untreated discharge flows into an adjacent wetland - p.17

CBDC #26/#1B Colliery, Glace Bay
In June of 1955 the Dominion 1B colliery was closed. The #26 Colliery coninued to produce on a steady basis up until April 1984, at which time it was closed by fire. Water treatment facility completed in early 2003 as an emergency backup for the Nevlle Street well field - p.18

CBDC's Coal Wash, Victoria Junction
CBDC Coal Preparation Plant operated 1976-1998. Waste dumps (26 ha, ~8 million tonnes). Major acid generation problem impacting Southwest Brook - p.29

Donkin mine site, Donkin
In 1982 CBDC initiated development of rock tunels at Schooner Pond. The tunnels intersected the Harbour seam in 1984. In 1985 CBDC completed the remval of a 5,000 tonne bulk sample. On December 13, 2004 the province issued a call for proposals to explore and develop the Donkin coal resource block, the largest remaining coal resource in the Sydney coalfield that can be mined by underground methods. On December 14, 2005 the province announced that Xstrata is the successful applicant in the call for proposals for the Donkin coal resource. Both Nova Scotia and Ottawa are staking claim to the estimated 700 million tonnes of undersea coal, which the Swiss-led corporate alliance hopes to start mining within the next three years.

Seizing the Opportunity, Nova Scotia's Energy Strategy 2001, Part V, Coal

Strategy Highlight: Creates a new Department of Energy to implement and manage provincial energy policies. With a full time Minister, the new department will begin operations at start of fiscal 2002- 03.

Between 1863 and 2000, more than 400 million t have been produced from the major coalfields of Nova Scotia which include: Sydney coalfield (Port Morien district, Glace Bay district, New Waterford district, Sydney Mines district, New Campbellton district), Inverness County coalfields (Port Hood, Mabou, Inverness, St. Rose-Chimney Corner), Pictou coalfield (Westville, Thorburn, Coalburn, Stellarton), Cumberland County coalfields (Springhill coalfield, Joggins-River Hebert coalfield), Kemptown-Debert coal area, Richmond County coal area, and Glengarry (Loch Lomond) coal area.

The largest single coal resource remaining in the province that can be mined by underground methods is the Donkin resource. A large number of available surface coal resources remain, many of which are in historically mined areas and provide opportunities for reclamation mining. Opportunities for reclamation mining are particularly prevalent in the Sydney coalfield, most of them areas included in the CBDC mining lease. These resources will return to the Crown when the corporation surrenders its lease, expected in late 2001 or 2002.

The legacy of 250 years of coal mining in Nova Scotia includes a large number of sites that have been left in a non-productive state following cessation of mining. In some cases, the land is not only derelict but hazardous, as a result of openings, acid-generating or metal-bearing waste, and near-surface subsidence. Whether legal or “bootleg” many operations have left land that cannot be used productively in its present state. There are now good examples of surface mining, where a company has recovered a remaining coal resource and in the process of reclaiming the land after mining, has returned derelict land to a productive state. This is a good model for environmental remediation. Everyone gains: the operator is able to recover a coal resource that would otherwise not contribute to the province’s and the community’s benefit, with accompanying direct and indirect jobs and spin-off economic activity; the community gets newly productive land and is relieved of the liability of potential hazards; and government gets royalties for the recovered mineral.

The province encourages reclamation mining, will facilitate this activity where economically, socially, and environmentally appropriate, and will consider reclamation potential as a determinant when processing tenders for coal resources in the province.

In June 2000, the Cape Breton Development Corporation (Devco) Divestiture and Dissolution Act, providing for the sales of assets and the eventual liquidation of the corporation, was approved by Parliament. In November 2001, Devco's last mine, the Prince mine, was closed

Canadian Environmental Protection Agency
-CEPA annual report April 2001 - March 2002

Remediation of Abandoned Mines - The National Water Research Institute is assessing the impact from the dispersion of metals, such as cadmium, lead, and mercury, through stream discharges from abandoned mining sites in Cape Breton. Major ecosystem and human health concerns have led to a focus on discharges from abandoned mining and storage sites for coal, including priority metal sources, transport and retention mechanisms, and fate from selected areas of concern. A remediation program by the Cape Breton Development Corporation is in progress.

Cape Breton Development Corporation
Corporate Plan Summary for 2002-03 to 2006-07

The Cape Breton Development Corporation (Devco) was formed by an Act of Parliament in 1967 and is wholly owned by the Government of Canada. The Corporation, which is located on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, closed its last remaining coal mine in the fall of 2001. Also, at that time, a sale of surface assets including the pier, railway and other associated assets was concluded. The residual activities of the Corporation involve addressing significant obligations for benefits to former employees and for environmental remediation as well as the disposal of remaining assets.

Devco's Corporate Plan Summary for 2002-03 to 2006-07 incorporated the effects of the closing of the Prince Colliery mine in December 2001. A small group of forty seven employees were given term employment after December 2001 to manage and administer the residual activities and obligations still facing the Corporation.

In its 2002-03 Annual Report, Devco noted the following:

Total cash expenditures of $76.0 million were made in the year, primarily for early retirement payments, workers' compensation benefits and remediation activities, with close to $67.0 million or 88% of the total going directly into Cape Breton communities. Pension plan wind-up activities relating to the purchase of annuities and the commuted value transfers for plan members were essentially completed as of March 31, 2003. Under a partnership arrangement between the Corporation and Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), nine remediation/reclamation projects were undertaken with a total expenditure of $8.5 million, of which $6.0 million of this was paid to Cape Breton contractors and service providers.

A Mine Water Working Group was established, comprised of representatives from Devco, PWGSC and Canmet, as well as local consultants and international research experts, to address potential acid mine drainage impacts. Based on the Group's work, a water treatment facility was constructed, along with an associated well field infrastructure, to control and treat acid mine drainage from a system of interconnected, flooded mines.

A Liquidation of Surplus Machinery & Equipment Policy was approved and a marketing plan was developed and implemented with initial progress achieved on disposal of such assets.

The career opportunity centers completed a third successful year, with the continued support of Human Resources Development Canada, and have now assisted almost 800 former employees find full-time or part-time work.

Financial Summary
$'s in thousands 2002 2003
Cash paid for early retirements, severance benefits and pensions 61,004 82,266
Parliamentary appropriations to fund cash requirements 46,536 65,500
Long-term accrued obligations 494,933 535,053

In 2002/2003, the ECBC entered into an MOU with the Cape Breton Development Corporation (DEVCO) “to enable the development of a decision-making and management framework for the identification, environmental assessment and remediation, and the potential transfer of properties with economic development potential from DEVCO to ECBC in a timely and efficient manner.” In 2005/2006, ECBC will continue to work with DEVCO to transfer other lands with economic development potential.

September 19, 2002 16:00
Inverness Mine Remediation
Department of Transportation and Public Works

The provincial government will invest up to $4 million next year in a project to clean up contamination from an abandoned coal mine in Inverness County.

Tourism and Culture Minister Rodney MacDonald made the announcement today, Sept. 19, on behalf of Ron Russell, Minister of Transportation and Public Works, at the Inverness Fire Hall.

The cleanup is required before any potential development can occur on the 60-hectare site, just west of Route 19, near the town of Inverness.

"This is a necessary step to minimize any current or future environmental risks," said Mr. MacDonald. "It's the right thing to do and an important step toward bringing new opportunities to this region of Cape Breton. The work, to be done next year, underscores our commitment to support economic development and local prosperity, while observing all proper environmental safeguards."

A coal mine operated on the site from the 1860s to the 1960s. The land has been vacant since then. Studies, however, indicated that waste rock at the site has produced acid over the years, covering at least 25 per cent of the site. Consultant CBCL Limited was hired by the province in June to complete a comprehensive site analysis and environmental management plan.

"It makes a lot more sense to tackle the problem now and not later," said Mr. MacDonald. "Acting now is in the taxpayers' best interest, since delays could lead to higher costs and raise liability issues. Our plan will bring the site back to a condition roughly similar to what would have existed before its use as a coal mine."

To ensure provincial control and the safety of the public and contractors, the remediation program will be managed by the Department of Transportation and Public Works. The project is expected to begin next spring and will take about six months to complete.

July 16, 2003
Province Accepts Coal Leases

The Cape Breton Development Corporation has relinquished its coal lease for the Sydney coalfields. The announcement that the lease has been surrendered to the province was made today, July 16, by Natural Resources Minister Tim Olive.

"Now that the province has control of the coal rights we will be able to look at what opportunities they may provide in the future," said Mr. Olive. "There is the potential for continued mining of the coal reserves, which could provide economic development opportunities for Cape Breton Island."

The Department of Natural Resources expects there will be private sector interest in developing coal resources in the Sydney coalfield. The department will administer a fair and an open process to consider applications for new coal leases over known reserves.

December 5, 2003
Cape Breton Coal Exploration Call Issued

The province issued a call today, Dec. 5, 2003 for proposals for exploration, development and reclamation of coal resources for four areas of Cape Breton.

The four areas, or claim blocks, are located in Point Aconi, Broughton, Boularderie Island and Birch Grove areas of Cape Breton Island.

A copy of the call for proposal is available online at (however the link no longer works)

February 3, 2004
Stellarton Surface Coal Mine Extension
Proponent: Pioneer Coal Limited
Location: Stellarton, Pictou County, Nova Scotia
Project Status: Approved with conditions.

Pioneer Coal Limited is proposing to extend the Stellarton Mine to the area east of the existing mine site across MacGregor Road. The mine expansion will be approximately 50 hectares in area. The project is anticipated to recover 1.1 million tonnes of coal over the proposed 6 years of development with activities commencing in 2004.

On February 3, 2004, the Minister of Environment and Labour released a decision concerning this review. The Minister has decided to approve the undertaking in accordance with Section 13(1)b of the Environmental Assessment Regulations, pursuant to Part IV of the Environment Act.

The undertaking has been approved subject to a number of conditions.

May 21, 2004
Province Accepts Proposals for Surface Coal Resources

The province has accepted proposals from three companies to explore, develop and reclaim four areas, or claim blocks, in the Sydney coalfield.

Thomas Brogan and Sons and Coastal Construction are now entitled to apply for exclusive mineral rights to coal lying within the Birch Grove and Boularderie Island claim blocks, respectively.

Pioneer Coal is eligible to pursue exclusive mineral rights to coal within both the Point Aconi and Broughton resource blocks.

November 12, 2004
Speaking notes for the Honourable Scott Brison
Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada

Right here in Cape Breton, we are in the third year of a ten-year program to clean up the Devco properties, something that will cost up to $150 million.

December 10, 2004
Brogan submits EARD for strip mine proposal

On December 10, 2004, Thomas Brogan and Sons Construction Limited submitted an Environmental Assessment Registration Document for a proposed surface coal mine at Point Aconi. The proponent is proposing to mine coal from the upper and lower Bonar coal seams at Point Aconi. The proposed mine will extract a 50,000 tonne block of coal from above the access slopes of the former Prince Mine. Coal extraction is expected to occur for a period of one full year followed by reclamation activities.

Public comments regarding this project were accepted from December 10, 2004 to January 4, 2005.

December 13, 2004
Province Issues Donkin Call for Proposals

The province issued a call for proposals today, Dec. 13, to explore and develop the Donkin coal resource block within the Sydney coalfield.

The successful bidder will be provided the exclusive right to apply for a mineral lease for the coal resource as outlined in the call for proposals. The lessee will be subject to the laws of Nova Scotia and will be required to obtain all necessary environmental approvals before mining begins.

January 4, 2005
Brogan required to provide more information

Environment Minister Morash wrote Thomas Brogan:

The environmental assessment of the Point Aconi Phase 3 Surface Coal Mine has been completed.

This letter is to advise that, pursuant to Section 13 (1)(a) of the Environmental Assessment Regulations, I have determined the registration information is insufficient to allow me to make a decision and that I require additional information.

March 10, 2005
Despite Kyoto, Nova Scotia sticking with coal
Canadian Press

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's four coal-fired electric generation plants will likely belch greenhouse gases for years to come despite Ottawa's renewed commitment to reduce such emissions, provincial officials say.

Environmentalists are hoping money from the $1-billion Clean Fund, announced in the recent federal budget, can be used to dismantle or convert coal-fired plants, which would help Canada comply with the Kyoto treaty on climate change.

But Nova Scotia appears reluctant to embrace the wholesale change proposed by Ottawa, even though 74 per cent of the province's electricity is generated by burning coal -- one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases.

"I wouldn't see decommissioning a coal-fired plant for the sake of reducing ... emissions,'' said Allan Crandlemire, director of climate change at the provincial Energy Department.

"I wouldn't suggest we're going to move to an electricity system that has no coal or oil in it. We'll migrate there over decades and decades, but that is not going to change over the five or 10 years.''

June 1, 2005
Pioneer Coal Submits EARD for Point Aconi strip mine

On June 1, 2005, Pioneer Coal submitted an Environmental Assessment Registration Document for a proposed Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project.

The purpose of the proposed undertaking is to undertake a surface coal mine and reclamation project at the Prince Mine Site in the Point Aconi Resource Block, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The project would consist of the extraction of approximately 1.6 million tons of coal over a 7 year period, including complete reclamation of the site.

Public comments regarding this project were accepted from June 01 to June 16, 2005 and from December 02 to December 16, 2005.

June 6, 2005
Speaking Notes for The Honourable Scott Brison, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Works and Government Services
to the National Press Club
Ottawa, Ontario

Climate change tends to be top-of-mind right now with the release of our Kyoto implementation plan. But I am also extremely proud of another area where my department is taking environmental leadership seriously and that is the remediation of contaminated sites.

The government has committed $3.5 billion to accelerate the ongoing clean-up of federal contaminated sites over the next 10 years.

One project of particular note is the Sydney tar ponds in my home province of Nova Scotia. Last month, our government got the thumbs up from environmentalists when it announced that a full independent panel would be appointed to review the proposed clean-up strategy for the Tar Ponds and Coke Oven sites. We expect that panel to report by the end of June 2006.

We are committed to undertaking this clean-up as soon as possible to make Sydney a better place in which to live, to invest, to work and to visit.

June 7, 2005
Province Provides Special Exploratory Licence

A North Sydney company, Coastal Construction, has received approval to conduct preliminary and conditional exploration for coal on a parcel of land adjacent to the Prince Mine Road (Route 162) in Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Coastal Construction will receive a special licence to explore within a specified area, subject to landowner consent. This exploration work will allow the company to determine the size of the coal resource and evaluate its economic viability.

June 15, 2005
Coal Exploration Proposals Reviewed

The province has completed its review of three applications for surface coal exploration and mining in the Sydney coalfield, and its review of three proposals to develop the Donkin subsea coal resource.

A special lease for coal at the former Prince Mine site at Point Aconi was approved for Pioneer Coal Limited on April 14.

Approval was given on June 2 to issue Coastal Construction and Excavating Limited an exploration licence to explore an area near the Prince Mine Road. The licence area is about 25 per cent of the resource block outlined in the original call for proposals.

Thomas Brogan and Sons Construction Ltd. was unsuccessful in obtaining mineral rights for the Birch Grove resource block.

A fourth application for a lease for surface coal resources in the Broughton coal block is under review.

June 27, 2005
Pioneer Coal required to provide more information

Environment Minister Morash wrote Pioneer's John Chisholm:

The registration information submitted is deficient in its examination of flora, fauna and wetlands. Both Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) and Environment Canada have indicated that field studies for flora and fauna must be conducted in order to fully assess the potential environmental effects of the project. These studies must be submitted as more information. NSDNR also indicates that while the registration document indicates that no wetlands are present, existing mapping suggests that there are wetlands on the project site. Additional analysis is required to determine the presence or absence of wetlands, and if present, evaluations of their ecosystem function and significance is also required.

A number of public submissions were received with respect to potential effects on farming and fishing industries in the area. Additional information is required indicating how potential impacts to fishing and farming activities will be addressed if the project was to proceed.

October 13, 2005
Report Will Aid Coal Mine Decisions

Decisions on surface coal mine applications in Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) will benefit from the recommendations of a cumulative effects assessment commissioned by the Department of Environment and Labour and released today, Oct. 13.

"The report does not make an overall recommendation on surface coal mining in Cape Breton Regional Municipality," said Michael Baker, acting Minister of Environment and Labour. "It offers a decision-making tool that is, in many ways, unique to the area.

"We have one active surface-mining application before us and we'll be consulting this report as we consider it and any future proposals."

The report made four recommendations for the environmental assessment of surface mining applications in CBRM. They address:
-- a review of "best management practices" that might apply specifically to a proposed project;
-- detailed reclamation planning, including standards, research, evaluation, and community involvement;
-- community involvement in the application process, project activity, and reclamation;
-- the potential of effects of a surface mining project to interact with the effects of past, present, and future projects.

December 2, 2005
Pioneer submits additional information

Additional information was registered as an addendum on December 2, 2005. Public comments for the project addendum were accepted until December 16, 2005.

December 2, 2005
Surface Mine Study Brings Rule Changes

Approvals for surface coal mining applications in Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) will have a greater emphasis on restoring disturbed land to its former or other productive uses.

This is one of several changes made in response to a study of the cumulative effects of surface coal mining on the island that was commissioned earlier this year.

"This fulfils our promise to incorporate the recommendations of the study," Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash said today, Dec. 2. "I am particularly pleased with the new guide to reclamation for operators. Should any surface mining projects receive approval, reclamation will be top-of-mind once work begins."

The study included four recommendations for the environmental approval of surface coal mining applications in Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Changes that reflect these recommendations mean:
-- Mine operators must follow a newly developed guide for surface coal mine reclamation plans;
-- Best management practices identified through the study will be applied to future projects as appropriate;
-- Environmental assessment applications must demonstrate that appropriate public consultation has occurred;
-- A community liaison committee will be required before any future surface coal mine approvals will be granted in Cape Breton Regional Municipality;
-- Applicants may be required by the Department of Environment and Labour to demonstrate that public consultation has been undertaken before an approval is issued for a bulk sample.
-- The Department of Environment and Labour will require environmental assessment submissions for surface coal mining projects in CBRM to include an evaluation of potential for cumulative environmental impacts.

The department has released two documents related to surface coal mining in Cape Breton -- a summary of its response to the study and a guide to surface coal mine reclamation plans.

December 14, 2005
Xstrata Alliance is Successful Applicant for Donkin

Xstrata Donkin Coal Development Alliance is the successful applicant in the call for proposals for the Donkin coal resource, the largest remaining coal resource in the Sydney coalfield that can be mined by underground methods.

The alliance must apply for a "mineral tenure," which is a special licence or lease, to the Donkin resource within 270 days. Applications for coal explorations must be approved by the provincial government before exploration or development can occur.

The alliance comprises Xstrata Coal of Sydney, Australia, Atlantic Green Energy Development of Savannah, Ga., and Kaoclay Resources, a Nova Scotia mining company.

The alliance is required to obtain all necessary environmental approvals before mining begins.

December 29, 2005
Point Aconi Coal Proposal Set for Next Phase

A proposal for surface coal mining in Cape Breton's Point Aconi area must meet detailed conditions as part of the next phase of the approval process, the Department of Environment and Labour announced today, Dec. 29.

The environmental assessment approval, issued to Pioneer on Wednesday, Dec. 28, identified numerous issues that must be addressed in the next stage of the process.

"Among them, we have requested the establishment of a community liaison committee and a third-party review of groundwater management plans," Mr. Morash said.

"There also has to be a detailed and feasible plan for reclaiming the land -- while mining is still in progress -- so that we can gauge its success. Further, there has to be meaningful, effective public consultation."

"We have to protect the environment, and this location presents challenging issues such as old tunnels from the Prince Mine and from illegal mining, and the protection of groundwater," he said.

An industrial approval requires a detailed, practical plan from the applicant for averting or mitigating those effects.

2004-2005 Departmental Performance Report PWGSC

In addition, the Government of Canada, through Budget 2005, gave PWGSC the mandate to help lead the greening of government operations. As a result, PWGSC has established a new Office of Greening Government Operations to provide a government-wide centre of expertise and leadership on environmental issues. This office will give guidance to the federal community on such issues as green procurement, green property management, recycling and waste management, and remediation of contaminated sites.

Mining Industry Activity in Nova Scotia, 2002

Coal production was down sharply in 2002, to 374 000 tonnes. This production level reflected the closure of the Cape Breton Development Corporation’s Prince Mine in Point Aconi, which closed in late 2001. The mine closure marked the end of a long continuous history of underground coal mining in Nova Scotia reaching back to the early 1700s, and the end to coal mining operations by the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

Manager: C. Chisholm
Address: PO. Box 1328
Antigonish, NS B2G 2L7
Production: 246,801 tons (223 897 tonnes) of coal
Employees: 23

Manager: C. Chisholm
Address: PO. Box 1328
Antigonish, NS B2G 2L7
Production: 93,458 tons (84 785 tonnes) of coal
Employees: 9

Manager: E. Brogan
Address: PO. Box 265
North Sydney, NS B2A 3M3
Production: 21,187 tons (19 221 tonnes) of coal
Employees: 10

Manager: R. Brogan
Address: 638 Bras d’Or Road
Florence, NS B1Y 1E4
Production: 40,112 tons (36 389 tonnes) of coal
Employees: 20

. Manager: M. McCormick
Address: R. R. #1
Springhill, NS B0M 1X0
Production: 10,396 tons (9 432 tonnes) of coal
Employees: 6

Coal Exploration Licence - Little Pond Department of Natural Resources May 1, 1998 14:00

Natural Resources Minister Kennie MacAskill said an exploration licence for possible development of a surface coal mine near Little Pond in the Sydney coalfield will be issued to Brogan Mining Company Limited of Sydney Mines. It will be a three-year renewable license.

Proposals for the licence, which were assessed by minerals branch staff of the Department of Natural Resources, were also received from Cape Crushing and from Coastal Construction, both of North Sydney.

"If the exploration leads to development of a new surface mine, this would effectively address local concerns about security and safety at the site, which has not been reclaimed since mining was conducted there in the 1950's," said Mr. MacAskill.

Any proposal for a surface mine will be subject to all the necessary regulatory and environmental approvals.

A call for proposals for the exploration licence was issued by Natural Resources late in November.

Environmental Assessment Regulations
Factors relevant to the Minister's decision

The following information shall be considered by the Minister in formulating a decision following review of the registration documents for a Class I undertaking:
(a) the location of the proposed undertaking and the nature and sensitivity of the surrounding area;
(b) the size and scope of the proposed undertaking;
(c) concerns expressed by the public about the adverse effects or the environmental effects of the proposed undertaking;
(d) steps taken by the proponent to address environmental concerns expressed by the public;
(e) potential and known adverse effects or environmental effects of the technology to be used in the proposed undertaking;
(f) project schedules where applicable;
(g) planned or existing land use in the area of the undertaking;
(h) other undertakings in the area; and
(i) such other information as the Minister may require.

Citizens Against Strip Mining
RE: Pioneer's Surface Coal Mine and Reclamation Project

Read C-A-S-M.'s comments to the Environmental Assessment Branch on Pioneer Coal proposal

Facts vs. Fiction

Click here for Suggested arguments to submit to the government to Help Preserve Cape Breton.

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Revised: 10/14/07 19:30:35.