Nova Scotia's Historic Underground Coal Mine Workings Information

Coal and coal mining have been significant contributors to the socio-economic development of Nova Scotia for centuries; moreover, the origin and early development of many towns and villages can be attributed to mining. There were coal mines in 7 of Nova Scotia′s 18 counties and more than 300 underground coal mines have operated since commercial mining began in Cape Breton in 1720. Approximately 400 million tonnes of coal have been mined in Nova Scotia′s surface and underground coal mines.

Over the course of Nova Scotia′s coal mining history, the provincial government has retained administrative records and mine plans for most of the underground coal mines. In an effort to increase awareness of this information, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) has compiled a map layer of information indicating the location of historic underground coal mine workings in coal-producing regions.

This layer shows where underground coal mine workings exist (or had existed prior to surface mining), based on the records and mine plans on file at NSDNR. The areas were developed by drawing vertical projections from known underground workings to surface. The layer does not provide information on the depth of the mine workings from surface, the number of levels (seams) of mine workings (there may be multiple sets of workings stacked vertically), the size of openings or the type of coal mine.

Surface coal mining operations have been conducted in Pictou, Cape Breton, Inverness, Cumberland and Colchester Counties. In many instances these operations intersect with historic underground coal mine workings. The footprints of surface mining operations are not reflected in the underground coal mine workings layer; however, coal seam outcrop locations have been removed in the areas where surface mining has been carried out.

The accuracy of the mapping of historical underground coal mine workings varies depending on the availability and quality of the original mine plans. It should be noted that any illegal 'bootleg' underground coal mine workings have not been documented by the Department and are not shown on the layer. The map layer is for reference purposes only and is not intended for detailed work, design plans or for the purposes of legal representation.

Users who require the highest level of detail are encouraged to review the mine plans on file at NSDNR. A review of the Department's Abandoned Mine Openings database is recommended, as there are areas where coal-related mine openings and associated workings are documented, but are not recorded on the mine plans filed with NSDNR.