The Nova Scotia Abandoned Mine Openings (AMO) Database

The Abandoned Mine Openings (AMO) Database is an inventory of the surface expressions of abandoned mine workings resulting from past underground mining and advanced exploration in Nova Scotia.

The Nova Scotia Department of  Energy and Mines (NSDEM) has identified approximately 8,400 shafts, adits, slopes, open cuts, trenches and associated underground workings (Information Circular ME 42) which are or were at one time, open to the surface. These mine openings are spread over almost 700 mining areas; however, the database is not, and should not be considered, a complete record of abandoned mine openings in the Province. Additional abandoned mine openings exist which have not been documented. As well, the database does not include surface expressions of subsidence resulting from the collapse of underground mine workings.

The inventory does not include quarries, sand pits, open pit mines, naturally occurring caverns or subsidence features related to karst topography.

NSDEM regularly updates the database whenever sites are visited or whenever previously undocumented mine openings are identified. In 2018 LIDAR coverage of the Eastern shore, portions of the South shore and much of Industrial Cape Breton was released by the Geographic Information Services Section of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services. Soon after, NSDEM undertook the initiative to evaluate the coverage areas for both known and undocumented abandoned mine openings. It was found that interpretation of LIDAR imagery could be used to locate historical mine openings, not previously mapped, and to confirm or adjust the locations of known AMO’s.  As a result, more than 800 mine openings have been added to the database and an additional 400 or so have had their location revised based upon the available information.

As well, the following points should be noted:

  • The majority of the abandoned mine openings on Crown Land have either been surveyed by GPS or positioned utilizing LIDAR imagery
  • The locations of most of the identified abandoned mine openings on Private land have not been surveyed and therefore their locations in the database are provided at a lower level of confidence
  • Not all mine openings have been examined by a physical inspection of the opening during a visit to the site
  • Since the information was compiled, new openings may have developed due to the deterioration of underlying abandoned mine workings
  • Conditions of sites which have been examined may change since they were last assessed. The degree of hazard indicated in the database should be used as a guide only

Undocumented abandoned mine openings resulting from small scale illegal mining, particularly related to coal, are added to the inventory when reported to, or identified by NSDEM staff during site visits. In some cases, a number of mine openings are located in very small areas and are associated with subsidence features similar to mine openings. In many of these cases, each individual mine opening may not be uniquely identified in the inventory, and a group of mine openings are represented by a single mine opening data point. Users of the database with an interest in these areas are encouraged to contact NSDEM for more detailed information.

Information related to historic mining was obtained from the following sources:

  • Annual Reports of the Nova Scotia Department of Mines
  • Geological Survey or Canada (GSC) Faribault-Fletcher series of Geological Maps
  • GSC Summary and Annual Reports, Papers and Memoirs
  • Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) Mineral Occurrence Cards
  • NSDNR Assessment Reports
  • NSDNR Open File Maps and Reports
  • NSDNR Papers and Bulletins
  • Nova Scotia Department of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services, Geographic Information Services, LIDAR Imagery
  • General Public
  • Geotechnical Consultants

The Abandoned Mine Openings Database can be searched by the mine opening name, location, claim reference map, landowner, commodity sought, county, mine opening type, name of vein or seam, hazard degree and mine opening original depth. Additional information such as mine opening identification number, tract, claim, date last visited, inclination, protection and UTM NAD83 coordinates is available through the generation of individual reports.

The coordinates used in the database are in Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Projection, Zone 20, North American Datum (NAD) 1983.