A company that wants to start a gold mine in Moose River, Nova Scotia has asked the province for permission to take possession of 14 properties near the mine site.

The company has applied to the Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker  — the last step before the company can begin work.

Officials for DDV Gold Ltd., a subsidiary of Australia-based Atlantic Gold, say the 14 properties make up less than three per cent of the land it needs for the mine. The company has already purchased 49 privately-held land titles.

After an extensive search, the rightful owners of the land weren't found, according to the company.

"We have some titles where it's very difficult to determine the ownership. In this particular area, there were some companies including a mining company working in the area, and some of these companies have been defunct," said Gretchen Pohlkamp, executive director of land services for the department.

Owners who come forward can still negotiate for payment.

Moose River Gold Mine

In a letter dated Jan. 20, Wally Bucknell, executive director for Atlantic Gold, wrote "the company is hopeful it may not be more than a matter of several months" for the project to begin, with gold production starting in 2014.

"On some of the properties that they've started to remove some of the buildings, so they've already begun the work, and I believe their plan is to begin as soon as possible," Pohlkamp said.

The company applied to open the Moose River mine in 2007.

There was a mining disaster in Moose River in 1936 that trapped three men underground. They were trapped about 45 metres down for 11 days. Two of the men lived through the ordeal, while the third man died on the seventh day of being trapped underground.

Environmental concerns

There has been little mining activity since, and some residents have said they are opposed to the open pit mine for environmental reasons.

The Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association has been voicing its opposition to the mine since 2008.

Spokeswoman Barbara Markovits said she has many concerns including the size of the proposed mine.

"The hole that the gold mine makes will be as deep as the Bedford Basin and numbers of football fields long and wide," she said.

Markovits also said there are concerns about local waterways and wells being contaminated by the mine.

She said it's also located close to a 14,000-hectare wildness area.

There are also concerns of the use of cyanide in the mining process and how the toxic substance will be transported in the  province.

A provincial environmental assessment was completed in 2008 and it required a detailed waste management system to deal with the cyanide and tailings.

"We don't have cyanide brought to the province at the moment and we don't think it's worthwhile to take the risk. The cyanide would have to be trucked over roads and bridges that abut water bodies — lakes, rivers streams and houses and that in itself is extremely dangerous," Markovits said.

The group said it wants the Nova Scotia government to reconsider the decision to allow the mine to open.