Donkin Mine begins producing coal in Cape Breton

Donkin Mine began producing coal Tuesday, reviving an industry that went into hibernation in 2001 with the closing of the Prince Colliery in Point Aconi.

Coal mined again in industrial Cape Breton after lengthy hiatus

Donkin Mine miners are shown in a handout photo provided by Neil Mackinnon. The Cape Breton mine began production earlier this week. (Neil Mackinnon/The Canadian Press)

Coal is being mined in Cape Breton again.

Donkin Mine began production Tuesday, more than 15 years after Prince Colliery in Point Aconi shut down, ending 280 years of underground mining in Cape Breton.

The announcement came from owner Kameron Coal Management Ltd.

"After two years of hard work and planning by our employees, many other supportive constituents and the Nova Scotia government, coal is being produced once again in Cape Breton," Paul Vining, CEO of Cline Group, said in a news release. Cline Group is the parent company of Karmeron Coal Management.

"This Cape Breton coal is some of the highest quality thermal and metallurgical coal in the world and we look forward to strategically marketing this product both domestically and internationally," the release said.

Good news for Donkin community

The goal is to produce half a million tonnes of coal in the first year, the company said, adding it has received all necessary government approvals and permits to start production. 

Paul Carrigan, chair of the Donkin community liason committee, was happy with the news.

"It's a milestone for Kameron Coal and in particular, a milestone for Donkin mine as well. The first coal mine in North America was not far away from the Donkin coal mine in Port Morien," he said Tuesday.

"So it's good news for the community. Economically, jobs of course are very important."

More jobs expected

The mine currently employs 64 people. That number will increase as production ramps up, Vining said.

Coal will be trucked from the mine to the Port of Sydney for shipment. Kameron is currently working with the province on a plan for the construction of a privately owned trucking route.

Cline Group LLC gained full control of the Donkin Mine by 2015, after purchasing a 75 per cent majority stake in the operation from Glencore Xstrata PLC and 25 per cent interest from Morien Resources Corp.