Nova Scotia

Owner of the Donkin coal mine is making plans to reopen

A member of the community liaison committee in Donkin, N.S., says the mine's owner, Kameron Coal, is working on getting regulatory approvals to restart operations.

Member of community committee says owner Kameron Coal is working on getting regulatory approvals to restart

Two large trucks pass on a dusty road leading past the gate and guardhouse at the entrance to a mine.
Nova Scotia's Environment Department has renewed the Donkin coal mine's industrial licence in Cape Breton, with several new conditions. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The owner of Canada's only underground coal mine in Donkin, N.S., is reportedly planning to restart operations after shutting down two years ago.

At a meeting of the mine's community liaison committee last week, Kameron Coal officials said the company is taking steps to get the mine back up and running, said Cape Breton regional councillor James Edwards, a member of the committee.

"I don't want to say that they are definitely reopening, because there's several approvals required, but they have announced that they are looking to reopen," Edwards said.

"At this point, they have not been given the approval to reopen. They're just gearing toward that eventuality."

The mine shut down in March of 2020 and its reopening has been in question ever since.

Kameron Coal founder Chris Cline had died in an accident the year before and the COVID-19 pandemic was just starting.

The price of coal had dropped below $50 a tonne and the mine had been plagued by unstable geology.

A month before the owner closed the underground mine, Nova Scotia's Department of Labour issued another in a series of stop-work orders due to multiple roof falls.

CBRM Coun. James Edwards says the price of coal has risen dramatically since the mine closed two years ago, likely making it economical to restart operations. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The price of coal, which generally follows world prices for oil, has risen dramatically this year, likely making it economical to restart the mine, Edwards said.

"The last I checked it was over $300 U.S., so I'm not surprised by this at all," he said.

Edwards said he is not sure which regulatory approvals are required before the mine can reopen, but officials told the community that it could only restart operations 90 days after those approvals are received.

No one from Kameron Coal returned a call for comment.

In an email, the Nova Scotia government said before the mine can reopen, the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration has to review Kameron Coal's operational plans to ensure they comply with occupational health and safety laws.



Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 37 years. He has spent the last 19 covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at