Aggregates used in the construction industry are the leading mineral produced in Nova Scotia. Provincial aggregate operations produce approximately 9 million tonnes per year for domestic consumption and approximately 4 million tonnes per year for export. Building stone is produced from several locations in Nova Scotia, including Wallace and Merigomish.
Gypsum mining was one of Nova Scotia′s most consistent industries for more than 100 years. The province produced approximately 80 per cent of the total Canadian gypsum production, and six per cent of world gypsum production. Nova Scotia is known for the quality and size of its gypsum deposits, as well as access to economical ocean cargo transport. The recent crisis in the U.S. housing market has had a direct impact on the Nova Scotia gypsum industry, since the majority of production is exported to the U.S. for wallboard manufacturing. Production levels have declined by 75 per cent compared to 2006 levels. Many of the gypsum mines in Nova Scotia have either shut down or been placed on care and maintenance indefinitely. Nova Scotia is home to the world′s largest open pit gypsum mine at East Milford and also produces gypsum from Little Narrows, Cape Breton Island.
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Salt production is thriving in Nova Scotia. Salt is currently produced from an underground mine in Pugwash and a solution mining operation at Nappan. Production averages approximately one million tonnes per year of rock salt. Most of the salt is used for de-icing, but 175,000 tonnes are processed annually into food-grade products, including table salt.
Nova Scotia has deposits of coal, which have been used to generate electricity and in steel production for more than 100 years. Coal production levels dropped significantly a decade ago following closure of the federally owned Devco mines. Coal generates approximately 60 per cent of Nova Scotia′s electricity and is expected to be the primary fuel source for electrical power generation in the province for the foreseeable future. There is continued interest in developing future underground resources in the province at Donkin, Cape Breton County.
Recent coal production has occurred at several surface ′reclamation mining′ projects where previously mined deposits are being ′re-mined′ and the impacted lands reclaimed to modern environmental standards. This accounts for more than 500,000 tonnes of current coal production in the province. Emerging clean-coal technologies, such as underground coal gasification, may provide future opportunities to generate electricity using Nova Scotia coal.
For a map of current mining operations in the province click here.