Inspectors On-site as Donkin Coal Mine Resumes Operations
Inspectors with the occupational health and safety team were on-site to inspect Donkin Coal Mine in Cape Breton as it resumed coal mining operations on Tuesday, September 13, part of the Province’s ongoing safety oversight at the mine.
The Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration will continue to conduct regular inspections, both announced and unannounced. Experts with the Department also completed a thorough review of operational safety plans submitted by owner Kameron Coal Management Limited.
“All Nova Scotians deserve to return home to their families at the end of the work day,” said Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration. “Our priority is to make sure workplaces have the right safety plans in place, especially those with a higher level of risk.”
The company is required to submit monthly reports on ventilation, main fan and emergency power supply, and reports for stone dust sampling. Other inspection reports must be submitted by the company whenever requested.
A stop work order remains in place in areas where rock falls occurred previously.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Underground Mining Regulations, the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration is responsible for enforcement and approving of plans and equipment associated with the mine.
The mine’s current industrial approval expires on December 4, 2022. The company applied for an industrial approval renewal on September 6, 2022, and the Department of Environment and Climate Change is required to make a decision within 60 days of a completed application. Environment and Climate Change staff also directed Kameron Coal to update its greenhouse gas management plan to ensure there will be measures in place to mitigate emissions. The Province will continue to monitor the mine’s greenhouse gas emissions and expects Donkin to contribute to meeting Nova Scotia’s legislated greenhouse gas emissions targets.
The federal carbon-pricing benchmark, which Nova Scotia used to guide the development of the cap-and-trade program, did not require coverage of methane emissions from underground mining. Nova Scotia’s cap-and-trade program will end in 2023, and options for regulating the underground coal mining sector’s greenhouse gas emissions after December 31, 2022, are being reviewed.
Underground mining is a complicated worksite with extensive regulatory requirements in Nova Scotia. The Department takes our oversight and enforcement role very seriously and we will continue to regularly monitor operations and enforce compliance for as long as work there continues.
Gary O’Toole, Senior Executive Director, Labour, Skills and Immigration
- since February 2017, the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration has completed 102 inspections, resulting in 152 warnings, 119 compliance orders and 37 administrative penalties being issued at the mine
- on June 20 and 21, 2022, Labour, Skills and Immigration received seven safety plans required for approval before work could resume
- Donkin Coal Mine is the only operating subsea coal mine in the world and Nova Scotia’s only operating underground coal mine
- fossil fuels used by the Donkin mine are subject to a carbon charge under the current cap-and-trade program
- Nova Scotia’s Guidelines for Noise Measurement and Assessment will be updated this year to better protect Nova Scotians from industrial noise; targeted stakeholder engagement will begin later this year
Workplace and technical safety information services: https://novascotia.ca/workplace-and-technical-safety/
Underground Mining Regulations: https://www.novascotia.ca/just/regulations/regs/ohsmine.htm#TOC3_7
Occupational Health and Safety Act: https://nslegislature.ca/sites/default/files/legc/statutes/occupational%20health%20and%20safety.pdf