A Canadian mining company and politicians in southwest Nova Scotia are hoping an idle tin mine in the area will help the economy rebound.

Toronto-based Avalon Rare Metals Inc. was granted a special licence by the province in March of this year for the East Kemptville Mine formerly owned by Rio Algom.

Avalon plans to invest $1.3 million into preliminary work to determine the feasibility of re-starting the mine.

The site is located about 45 kilometres northeast of Yarmouth.

Rio Algom closed the mine in 1992 because of falling tin prices, but Avalon president and CEO Don Bubar says a lot has changed since then, including a recovery in the price of tin and potentially higher prices in the future.

"There's [also] lots of new demand for tin from its new application in the use of lead-free solders and electronics," says Bubar.

He says the mine also contains the rare metal indium which was not previously mined at the site. Mining it could make the mine even more viable.

"In the past it had limited commercial use, but now it's got growing application in electronics, is in demand," said Bubar.

He expects a dozen people to be employed at the remote site this summer, the majority of them Nova Scotians.

If the project moves forward, he said as many as 200 people could be employed there.

"We know that part of the province suffers from high unemployment," he said. "There's a good skilled labour force there that would love the opportunity to work in an operation like that close to home, so we think we can fill most of our employment needs in Nova Scotia," said Bubar.

An economic boon for the area

All of this is music to the ears of politicians in the nearby town of Shelburne. Mayor Karen Harris-Matattall says the prospect of that many jobs is exciting in an area that has been struggling.

"Like most rural communities, we're losing people because they need employment and it's a struggle to get employment in rural Nova Scotia, so this may well be something that's going to work out very well and be very positive for this community," she said.

The mayor said the town is also hoping to convince the company to use the port of Shelburne to ship its product.

Bubar says if all goes as planned, it will be three or four years before the mine is operating.