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More of the same old, same old "no is not an option" from the NDP government with no public consultation or accountability whatsoever:

Critics alarmed over pending release of coal mining study
Michael MacDonald , The Canadian Press
Thursday Feb. 16, 2012

HALIFAX — Almost six years after Nova Scotia imposed a moratorium on 13 surface coal mining projects in Cape Breton, the province is about to release a report that could revive an industry that has attracted its share of public protest.

Next month, the ministers of environment and natural resources will be handed a study -- produced by government and university scientists -- that shows promising results from a surface mine in Cape Breton that was allowed to proceed as a case study.

"From what I've seen and from people doing the study, it does look favourable," said Alan Davidson, director of mineral management at the provincial Department of Natural Resources.

The study and the moratorium started in 2006 amid growing public opposition to the provincial government's decision to grant a surface mining permit to Pioneer Coal Ltd. of Antigonish, N.S.

Despite vocal protests, the company was told it could begin mining 1.6 million tonnes of coal from close to the surface of the former Prince mine near Point Aconi, the last operating underground mine in Nova Scotia. It closed in 2001 when the federal government got out of the mining business, ending a way of life in eastern Cape Breton.

Two years later, with world coal prices on the rise, the province issued a call for proposals to restart exploration and development of the Sydney Coalfield -- the largest coal resource in Eastern Canada.

The result was 14 surface mining proposals, a public backlash and a single, seven-year permit for Pioneer.

The operation has moved into a reclamation phase that includes cleaning up the old Prince mine site and restoring the land and its vegetation. The work is supposed to be completed within a year of the mine's closure, expected in 2013.

Some local residents say the Pioneer project has been a disaster from Day 1.

"How would you like to have a bulldozer in your backyard all night long?" said Brian Gerrow, who lives within a kilometre of the mine site.

"All summer, we can't open the windows because of the noise and the dust. You can't get a breath of air. ... This has been going on since they started."

Officials with Pioneer did not respond to two requests for an interview.

Gerrow, a retired coal miner who worked underground for 33 years, said weekly blasting at the mine has damaged some homes, including his own. He said he filed claims with the company after his two chimneys were damaged, but the company turned him down.

"They had one (blast) that really shook the house the other day," he said. "It's the same as an earthquake. ... Everything vibrates."

Lori Errington, a spokeswoman for the provincial Environment Department, said the department received 23 complaints about noise and dust in the last two years alone, the majority of them coming from the same person.

The department also investigated an incident involving wetlands in 2009, cited the company for failing to comply with blasting guidelines in 2010, and is investigating a report that a blast last month may have exceeded vibration limits.

As for some neighbours' complaints that Pioneer isn't consulting with the community, Errington said it's up to the company to manage its citizens liaison committee, and encouraged people to contact the government.

"If residents have a concern with the operation of the mine, they are absolutely welcome to express that concern to Nova Scotia Environment," Errington said.

Local residents Sylvia and Earl Cantwell said it's not unusual for big trucks to start rumbling out of the mine site at 5:30 a.m., with 45 to 60 trucks rolling past their home daily in Little Bras d'Or.

Earl Cantwell, a carpenter near retirement age, scoffs at the suggestion that the former Prince mine had to be dug up after a consultant determined its abandoned mine shafts and several adjacent bootleg mines posed a hazard to local residents.

"We told him he was full of organic bovine fertilizer," Cantwell said, adding that a majority of Crown land that was clear cut and mined had never seen commercial mining before.

"We haven't taken anybody on tour yet that wasn't physically sick when they saw what's going on here."

Government officials say between 40 and 50 hectares had been previously disturbed by mining on the 85-hectare site.

Jean Sawyer, a volunteer with the Citizens Against Strip Mining advocacy group, said Pioneer has transformed the undisturbed Crown land around the old mine site into a barren mess.

"Before, it was a beautiful, healthy forest full of all kinds of plants," she said in an interview from her home in Black Rock. "It was a fascinating place to walk around. They totally clear cut it, dug it up, excavated the coal, blasted it and now it's just a moonscape."

Though the mine is about eight kilometres from her house, Sawyer is worried the province's government will soon grant approval to the other projects on hold, including one much closer to her home.

"They're trying to justify it by saying the land was dangerous and derelict. The local residents have said there's nothing wrong with the land. It was just an excuse to strip mine it ... (And) there's been no cleanup of the Prince mine at all."

The Natural Resources Department says about 25 per cent of the site has been reclaimed, which means the pits have been filled in, the land contoured and grass and shrubbery planted. But Davidson said it will take years before the land starts to look like the patch of mixed Acadian Forest it once was.

"You can't transplant the trees into those kind of areas once they're cleared," he said. "But there's certainly lots of wildlife in the area."

Most of the coal extracted from the mine, which was to employ about 40 people, is sold to Nova Scotia Power and burned in its Point Aconi generating station about two kilometres away.

There is one other surface coal mine in Nova Scotia, operated by Pioneer west of Stellarton.

This article was the frontpage top of the fold full width headline in the Halifax Chronicle Herald on Thursday, February 16, 2012. Note that as with the Cape Breton Post reporter the week before, Pioneer Coal declined an interview. Next day we heard that Pioneer Coal held a secret meeting with their anonymous Community Liaison Committee on Thursday night!!!! Perhaps a call to the folks listed on the Comments page will explain what's going on here, and what's about to happen next!

February 11, 2012
C.B. could see more surface mining operations in its future
By Julie Collins, Cape Breton Post

POINT ACONI — Pioneer Coal’s surface mining operations in Stellarton and Point Aconi are the only two operations currently underway in Nova Scotia. More of the controversial projects are waiting in the wings, though.

“There is not a moratorium, not by definition; there is a hold on approval for anymore projects,” said Alan Davidson, director of mineral management with the Department of Natural Resources.

In 2009, the province extended the deadline for consideration of 13 potential surface mining projects until April of this year. They are all in Cape Breton.

The original deadline, announced in April 2006, was intended to provide Pioneer Coal with time to demonstrate the environmental impacts and the nature of reclamation from mining initiatives.

Davidson said the study has mainly focused on surface mining, finding better ways to do reclamation, and documenting the reclamation process.

“We plan to have the study complete by sometime in March. It will be presented to the minister with recommendations,” Davidson said. “The whole thing would be somewhat premised by whether there was a market for the coal. Nova Scotia Power has talked about different issues with burning coal and trying to get coal from offshore. If there is domestic coal available that will suit their specifications, I’m sure there is a good possibility they will look for some.”

Reclamation is one of the primary concerns that has to be addressed before the Department of Environment or Natural Resources would consider any possible surface mining in the province.

Results from a cleanup project at Tobin Road in Sydney Mines and another in nearby Little Pond have been used in the ongoing work at Point Aconi.

“Some of that experience was transferred over to Point Aconi as a new site and have been tried there —planting clumps of trees and building wetlands,” he said. “There has been some pretty good documentation of that and some intermediate reports have been released over the last six years in what we call our annual review of activities.”

According to Davidson, different reclamation processes were tried at various sites that included building ponds, planting grass, transplanting shrubs and letting other areas grow naturally to see what would happen.

“One of the concerns was to try to and get the mixed Acadian-forest type of vegetation back. There are certain sites more conducive to fields, but generally everyone wanted trees on the land.”

Approximately 25 per cent of the mined area at Point Aconi has been reclaimed to the stage where shrubs and vegetation are growing and some wetlands are established.

A report on the current status of the reclamation study is available on the NS Mineral Resources Branch (Winter 2012) Minerals Update newsletter on the Natural Resources website,

The projects at Tobin Road, Little Pond and Point Aconi are the three that will be studied and documented under the Surface Coal Mine Reclamation Enhancement Initiative since 2006.

There has been some interest in starting new surface mining projects over the last year or so from a few small construction companies in Cape Breton.

“There is a lot of in-depth study required to get an environment assessment and environmental approval to do these mining operations now,” Davidson said. “Generally it takes a year to two years to get an environmental approval on any mining operation.”

Pioneer Coal has had several strict conditions in its industrial approval to protect the environment and human health.

The Department of Environment frequently inspects the operation — twice monthly when the site is active, and once a month when it’s not active.

In 2010 and 2011 the Department of Environment had 23 public complaints regarding Pioneer Coal’s Point Aconi operation that resulted in followup, but an inspection wasn't necessary. Many of these complaints came from one person, according to the province.

In 2010 and 2011 combined, the environment department issued one directive for non-compliance and there were no other actions against the company. The department is currently investigating an issue with vibrations from blasting.

“We will continue to monitor the site and follow up on public complaints,” said Lori Errington, Nova Scotia Environment communications adviser.

Citizens Against Strip Mining (CASM) continues to monitor the site in Point Aconi.

“There is still blasting going on, but I’m hearing they are supposed to be finished up at Point Aconi sometime this month,” said CASM member Donna Stubbert. “People here have had enough, their homes are being shaken, there is damage to chimneys and people living close to the site have had no quality of life.”

Stubbert said people just want some peace.

“We’ve lived with the blasting, the dust and the noise, we know what takes place with strip mining, we know what to expect.”

No Frackin Way SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2012
Fracking In Nova Scotia:
Why the big secret?

While everyone's frothing about fracking shale gas in Nova Scotia, for the past two months in the House of Assembly COAL was the subject of a great deal of debate, but not a word of it is ever mentioned or reported by the usual suspects and eco-experts. Why the big secret? Read more...

April 12, 2011
"The blasting has to stop"

Kudos to the many people of Point Aconi who are being adversely affected by the blasting and spoke to the CBC TV and Radio reporters, well done! The long CBC Radio interviews are not online but you can watch the CBC TV Video clip starting at 16:22.

April 11, 2011
Residents frustrated with mine activity prepared to walk away
The Cape Breton Post

POINT ACONI - Weekly explosions at Pioneer Coal's surface mine are driving some residents to consider pulling up stakes and planting 'for sale' signs on their front lawns.

Nearly five years into Pioneer Coal's approval for a surface mine reclamation project some residents are contemplating leaving because of ongoing controlled blasts from the mine site.

"When it hits, it feels like an earthquake. On Friday, I thought my whole house was going to go into the ground. That's how bad it was," said Joanie MacRae, a resident of Point Aconi Road.

MacRae has a view of the pit from her living room window. She said residents living in the area have had to endure one, sometimes more than one blast a week since the mine opened in 2006.

Friday's blast was within the allowable limit of 12.5 millimetres per second for ground vibration and 128 decibels for air percussion. Two monitors recorded 11.4 mm and 10.4 mm per second, and 118 and 116 decibels, during the blast, according to readings provided by the company to the Department of Environment.

Under its conditions of approval, the mining company must notify residents in the "blast zone" with a hand delivered notice 24 hours before the detonation.

Often times that's not the case, MacRae said.

"You don't really get much notice. Usually they bring the notices the day of (the blast)."

With three young children, she may consider leaving the community with her family.

Forrest Lane is the closest street to the blast zone. Pioneer Coal has bought three properties on the street, and according to residents, the company is trying to buy several other peoples' properties.

Many people are reluctant to speak publicly about the mine because of friends and neighbours who work there, says Jean Sawyer, who is a member of the group Citizens Against Strip Mining.

A citizen liaison committee was set up to hear the community's concerns, however Sawyer said no one seems to know who are the members of this "anonymous committee."

"One of the conditions of approval was there was supposed to be community consultation, and somewhere to call if you've got problems or complaints," she said. "They just tell us to call the manager at the mine site which is no help at all to the people here.

"It's not like Xstrata, or Devco, that hold open houses to inform the media of what they're doing. (Pioneer Coal) doesn't do any of that. There is no public information at all."

Pioneer Coal site manager Michael Jessome wasn't immediately available for comment, Monday.

MacRae said she hasn't had her concerns with the ongoing blasting addressed.

"You can complain all you want. It doesn't matter to them. They just say, "Okay then."

The province imposed a three-year moratorium on surface mine reclamations after approving Pioneer Coal's project at the former Prince Mine, and extended the ban on new surface mines in 2009 for another three years.

What is left at the Point Aconi site won't be known until the project is finished, but it will likely determine the future of other potential reclamation projects.

Pioneer Coal's seven-year lease is due to expire in 2013. The company received provincial approval to extract the coal and sell it to Nova Scotia Power, with a royalty paid to the province for each tonne of coal removed.

The cleanup of the former Devco property covers 115 hectares.

Department of Environment spokesperson Karen White said the nature of the work allows for determined levels of noise and vibration.

"According to testing to date, the company hasn't exceeded either level during a blast," she said.

White suggested residents who aren't having their questions answered should contact the local Environment Department office for assistance.

"If people do have concerns they can certainly call the office and let them know who's the best person to speak with."

Hands off Mine Remediation Money! At CASM's public meeting in January 2006 Point Aconi's MLA Cecil Clarke insisted that the federal Devco money to remediate the mine sites was not on the table so the province had to strip mine Point Aconi to pay for the clean up of the Prince Mine. Now that Clarke wants to be MP and his "intimate" friend at ECBC has his hands on Devco's assets, $19 million suddenly appears out of nowhere to spend on dredging Sydney Harbour that's just as toxic as the Tar Ponds that flowed into it! Why, just 6 months ago ECBC's CEO John Lynn (middle) was swearing every which way to CBC Radio that ECBC doesn't have the money or the mandate to fund dredging the harbour, but did get a provincial Environmental Assessment approval for it in record breaking time just before Clarke's Regressive Conservative party suffered humiliating defeat in the June 2009 provincial election! (runs 11:45)

16 December 2010
Ottawa 'diverted' ECBC cash for harbour dredging
Chronicle Herald

SYDNEY — Local people were thrilled when Prime Minister Stephen Harper put up $19 million in federal money toward the dredging of Sydney Harbour last week. Now, some are wondering if the announcement was nothing more than a big old hoodwink.

"This wasn't new money," said local Liberal MP Mark Eyking during a telephone interview Wednesday. "This was money, diverted from (Enterprise Cape Breton Corp.), that was supposed to be used for remediation of the old Devco coal mine sites. That money is supposed to be used to clean up those sites."

In fact, Harper did not identify the money as "new" money. He merely said the funding would be coming through the Crown corporation.

Enterprise Cape Breton took over the assets of the former Cape Breton Growth Fund, formed when Devco, the former mining Crown corporation, closed. Along with the assets and properties, Enterprise Cape Breton also took over the responsibility for the cleaning up Devco's old mine sites.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman from ACOA Minister Keith Ashfield's office said the money had not been earmarked for any projects.

"The use of this money for the dredging will have no effect on (Enterprise Cape Breton's) ability to carry out its mandate to help economic development or to remediate the properties," the spokeswoman said.

"The money was freed up as a result of (Enterprise Cape Breton) and Devco coming together and was not earmarked for anything and will now be used to benefit the community."

Cape Breton North MLA Cecil Clarke, who intends to run for the Conservatives in the next federal election, has intimate knowledge of the deal. "All of that money has been set aside for remediation but there was $19 million in surplus," he explained. "This funding was not for the remediation work and had it not been used for the dredging it would have gone back to the Treasury Board of Canada, so why not put it back into the community?"

Clarke said it didn't really matter where the money came from, as long as it was being used to help offset the cost of a $39-million harbour dredging.

The harbour's dredging means larger container ships could enter Sydney Harbour. Local economic development proponents say a deeper harbour would mean container shipping piers could eventually be built, opening up a whole new industry in this region.

"At the end of the day, these are all federal dollars and if they stay in the community then everyone benefits," Clarke said.

15 December 2010
Hands off Mine Remediation Money

(Ottawa) Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking says the Sydney harbour dredging project should be funded with new money and not diverted money from other projects. Media reports indicate the dredge is being funded through existing ECBC funds from money earmarked for mine site remediation.

"I strongly suggest that the Prime minister find some new money instead of taking from a fund designed to clean up the legacy of over 100 years of coal mining," said Eyking.

"It puts Cape Breton no further ahead and it's completely unfair to the people." ... ...

10 December 2010
Mine site toxin worries spark letter

Chronicle Herald
Fri, Dec 10, 2010

Some Point Aconi residents have sent a letter to the provincial environment minister expressing concerns about contamination at the old Prince Mine site.

A letter sent Wednesday to Sterling Belliveau said that a monitoring and compliance inspector has failed to address residents' questions and concerns about possible contamination.

The letter asked Belliveau to immediately look into the issue.

"It is well known that the old waste rock pile at Devco's old Prince Mine site was the dumping ground not only for mine waste, but also many other toxic materials that could not be disposed of elsewhere," said the letter.

As part of Pioneer Coal's surface mine and reclamation project at the Prince Mine site, soil and materials from that rock pile are now being excavated and disposed of in nearby pits that have been strip-mined on coastal Crown land, the letter said.

It questioned Belliveau about what environmental testing his department has done of the soil before it was put on Crown land.

28 December 2009
Donkin exemption not in the cards
Cape Breton Post Editorial

The Nova Scotia government isn't going to budge on new atmospheric pollution cap in hopes of accelerating the start of the Donkin coal mine. That is the right position. Calls on government for a temporary exemption for Donkin are a weak political gesture.

New, lower emission caps taking effect Jan. 1 were cited at a Dec. 17 public meeting in Donkin as the reason Nova Scotia Power isn't interested in buying raw coal that would be extracted in an evaluation phase, lasting about three years, for the proposed mine. Only after that would the project be approved for full development by Australia-based Xstrata and partner Erdene Resource Development Corp., based in Halifax. The full project would include a rail line to Sydney harbour and a wash plant at the pit head that would lower the content of polluting chemicals such as mercury and sulphur in the saleable coal. But in the meantime, the several million tonnes of coal extracted in the evaluation phase would be quite dirty by the benchmarks that regulated utilities such as NSP are looking for now as they try to squeeze under falling emissions caps.

Xstrata's position is that it can't proceed with the next phase of the mine start-up until it has sale for the raw coal. NSP is firm that it can't look at raw coal with new caps coming (and there are no promises on washed coal either), while Andrew Murphy, manager of the provincial environment department's air quality branch, says the province has no intention of easing the regulations.

Progressive Conservative MLA Alfie MacLeod (Cape Breton West), supported by District 2 Councillor Kevin Saccary, proposes a four-year regulatory exemption that would allow NSP to burn Donkin's raw coal. MacLeod neglects to mention that the new caps on pollutants such as sulphur and mercury were in fact scheduled by a PC government in September 2007. That decision to adopt the national standards for power plants included a commitment to cut mercury emissions by 70 per cent within three years.

Much of the environmental attention on coal has shifted to greenhouse gases released in burning it, principally carbon dioxide, but the Jan. 1 caps pertain more to older concerns – sulphur, which contributes to acid rain, and mercury, a dangerous toxic that disperses through the food chain. While climate issues remain contentious and unsettled, the science on acid rain and the dangers of mercury is no longer controversial.

It's a long, hard slog to make progress on these issues. Backtracking just isn't in the cards.

Some wonder whether Cape Breton should even be pursuing a new undersea mine when coal is anathema to environmentalists the world over and when many governments are tightening emissions standards for power plants. But while coal is under pressure it is far from dead, and if Xstrata can make money mining it at Donkin, Cape Breton has as much right as any jurisdiction to reap the benefit. However, Cape Bretoners should not be asked to oppose sound environmental policies for the privilege of getting some jobs.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Power company rejects Cape Breton coal
CBC News

Nova Scotia Power is refusing to buy coal from Cape Breton, dashing hopes for a local coal mine under development.

Rob Bennett, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power, said coal from the island has higher levels of sulphur and mercury, making it unsuitable as the utility tries to meet tougher environmental standards.

"It's very difficult to integrate into our existing plans and meet the ever-tightening guidelines that we have. We've committed to reducing our emissions, so it eliminates the immediate use of Cape Breton coals at this point," he told CBC News.

The development of the Donkin coal mine is stalled as the owner looks for a buyer for the ore.

Last week, an official with Xstrata Coal said it made sense to sell coal to Nova Scotia Power, which burns coal at its four generating plants.

The MLA for the area, Alfie MacLeod, said he asked the provincial government to exempt the utility from the rules for four years so the region can benefit from the hundreds of jobs a new mine would bring.

Nova Scotia Power expects to burn less coal in the future, according to its latest plan. The utility said it would replace 10 per cent with waste wood, or biomass, but didn't plan to close its coal-fired plants.

18 December 2009
Donkin project on hold until buyer can be found
Cape Breton Post

DONKIN — A company seeking to reopen the Donkin mine still hasn't found a buyer for the raw coal that would be extracted during an evaluation phase of the project.

During a presentation at the Donkin fire hall Thursday evening, an official with Xstrata Coal Donkin Management said project partners won't begin the three-year, $110-million test phase unless they can sell the coal.

Project manager Val Istomin said several million tonnes of unwashed coal would be a byproduct of an ongoing pre-feasibility study to determine if the mine is economically viable.

If the mine proceeds, a wash plant would be set up to remove sulphur and other materials from the coal.

"We have everything in place other than approval from our company," he said. "Our company's position is that until such time as we can move the coal that comes out as a result of this exploration work, we really shouldn't start it."

Istomin believes a buyer will come forward due to the need for coal, but he said it's not likely the company will have a contract agreement within the next three months. He added that the project has all of its regulatory approvals in place.

Donkin partners had hoped to sell their coal to Nova Scotia Power but new emissions regulations coming into to effect Jan. 1, 2010 have stifled the sale.

NSP spokesperson Jennifer Parker told the Cape Breton Post the company has no plans for the coal.

"We have been approached by the companies representing Donkin but we've made no commitments at this time," she said.

Cape Breton West MLA Alfie MacLeod and District 2 Coun. Kevin Saccary said the province should lift their emission regulations on this particular coal for a four-year maximum test period.

MacLeod put forward a bill during the last sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature that would allow NSP to burn Donkin's raw coal. He said the government must address the bill in the next session.

MacLeod said coal-burning companies such as NSP regularly burn a mixture of coal.

The project's community liaison committee chair Hugh Kennedy said his group is concerned how NSP could burn the coal without producing harmful emissions at its generating stations, including the Lingan plant.

"One of the things we would be concerned about is, ‘OK, how do you burn this raw coal and (have) the least amount of impact on the environment?'" said Kennedy.

The Donkin mine project, which began in 2006, currently costs $350,000 a month in operating costs. The project is a partnership of Xstrata, which is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and Halifax's Erdene Resource Development Corp., a Halifax company, which has a 25 per cent stake.

23 December 2009
Families fed up
Launch lawsuit against strip mine as "nuisance"

Pictou News

Two families in Stellarton are suing for damages against the STELLARTON – strip mine in the town.

Robin and Patricia Lloyd and Charles and Angeline Stewart are named as plaintiffs in the statement of claim filed with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court against the strip mine, owned by Pioneer Coal and Nova Construction. They are suing for nuisance.

Both couples have lived in their homes in the Evansville area, near the strip mine, since 1993. A close-knit community where families have raised their children for generations, it's been virtually replaced by the strip mine.

"The plaintiffs state that in or around January of 1994, the defendants commenced the operations of the strip mine in close proximity and adjacent to the plaintiffs' homes," states the claim prepared by lawyer Jamie MacGillivray. "The strip mine expanded in the proceeding years, removing more acres of earth, flora and fauna around and adjacent to the plaintiffs' homes. The plaintiffs' homes are at the present time almost surrounded by the strip mine."

The families say the operation also produces excessive particulate matter, including coal dust, which damages their homes and diminishes property value.

The mine is operated in a way that also creates excessive noise, the statement claims.

"The defendants' heavy equipment and machinery produced unreasonably excessive noise in consideration of the proximity of the plaintiffs' homes to the strip mine," the statement notes. "The strip mine causes vibrations throughout the plaintiffs' homes."

The plaintiffs are also fearful of the potential harmful health effects caused from this exposure to the particulate matter. The Lloyds and the Stewarts say these actions by the defendants constitute an unreasonable and substantial interference with their ordinary use and enjoyment of their homes for the tort of nuisance.

"Our office will be taking steps to try and assess the impact of this operation on the community as a whole," MacGillivray said. "The strip mine was expanded in recent years and is now less than one half a mile from G.R. Saunders Elementary School. We are going to access the Provincial Department of Environment records to determine what the province is doing to protect the community."

The two couples are seeking damages for the diminution of their property; the replacement costs for damages to their property and general damages.

The companies will be served within the next few days and will have 20 days to respond.

Fall 2009 - DNR gave several presentations on its "Concurrent Reclamation Practices at the Point Aconi Surface Coal Mine" at mining conferences and meetings with environmental groups in Halifax boasting of their "success" but has yet to present their twisted version of events to the people of Cape Breton being adversely affected by it and know the truth. Since then Pioneer Coal can be seen clearcutting more healthy woodlands and wetlands that have never been mined before under DNR's disguise of cleaning up the Prince Mine while Xstrata's project at the Donkin Mine is shutdown because there is no market for its high sulphur coal. Go figure! 
Department of Natural Resources
Mineral Resources Branch

Concurrent Reclamation Practices at the Point Aconi Surface Coal Mine
Dan Khan, Paul White and Helen MacLeod

Pioneer Coal Limited has operated several surface coal mines in Nova Scotia during the past three decades. This presentation will focus on current reclamation practices being employed at the Point Aconi Reclamation Mining project where remaining near-surface coal resources are being recovered following the closure of the underground Prince Mine and in areas of past "bootleg" (illegal) mining. The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources has undertaken a study to improve reclamation results at surface coal mines. The Surface Coal Mine Reclamation Enhancement Initiative was announced in April 2006 and the committee overseeing the project has initiated research to increase benefits related to lands reclaimed following surface coal mining.

Some of the ideas and methods developed through the DNR committee work are now being applied at the Pioneer Coal project in Point Aconi. DNR and Pioneer Coal are collaborating by documenting procedures being used at the mine and the results gained from the work will be shared with the committee. Vegetation surveys are being conducted to assess the results of current work, which may be compared to previous reclamation results.

So where were these guys when Pioneer Coal sold the topsoil from the DNR Crown land being strip mined to Nova Scotia Power in violation of the Terms and Conditions of Approval and it took a public protest and media coverage and an honourable and professional Vehicle Compliance Officer to put a stop to it when DNR and NSE wouldn't and DOT couldn't even find the road?  

"Without the ability to operate 24 hours/day on the surface coal mining operation... 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." - Pioneer Coal's Environmental Assessment Registration Document, May 2005

"In relation to the burning of high sulphur coal, the Air Quality Regulations prescribes provincial sulphur dioxide emissions caps and requires reporting of sulphur content and corresponding sulphur dioxide emissions from each facility. The Provincial Energy Strategy also sets targets for the reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions by 2010." - Environment Minister Mark Parent dismissing public appeal of his approval of Pioneer Coal's strip mine, 17 November 2006

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