Consultant’s Report Helps Address Donkin Mine Safety
A consultant’s report is providing new information and guidance on how to keep the Donkin coal mine safe.
Andrew Corkum, an associate professor with Dalhousie University’s department of civil and resource engineering, found seasonal changes and humidity have an impact on roof stability in the mine and recommends a two-phase approach to address issues.
Based on the recommendations, the Department has issued two orders requiring action. The mine has been under a stop work order since July due to roof falls.
“Nova Scotia has a long history of mining and Nova Scotians are aware of incidents when miners did not come home safe. That can never happen again,” said Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration. “Our focus has been making sure these workers can return to work safely. We now have important information to help make the mine safer for these workers.”
The report recommends immediate action in Phase 1:
- updating the hazard assessment classification system
- adding further monitoring measures in the tunnel.
The Department has issued orders for that work, which must be completed for the stop work order to be lifted. After the Department lifts the stop work order, which has been revised based on the report, production can resume.
The second phase recommends a review of the ground control management plan to ensure it takes into account the report’s findings and appropriately prepares the mine for seasonal changes and periods of high humidity.
The Department has issued an order requiring a review of the mine’s ground control plan by a third-party engineer with experience in mining and tunnelling to address the findings in the report. The mine will be allowed to operate during the winter while working on this order; however, Phase 2 must be finished and the consultant’s recommendations implemented in order to continue operating in the higher humidity spring and summer months.
There are always challenges with understanding the implications of geological conditions on safe performance. For this reason, extensive experience in similar mines and tunnels around the world helps to provide valuable perspective to understanding the safety at the mine and how these issues are addressed at other mines. I provided the Department with a review to better understand how the geological conditions in this mine may affect roof falls and inform appropriate safety decisions.
Andrew Corkum, associate professor at Dalhousie University’s department of civil and resource engineering
- Kameron Coal Management Ltd. operates the Donkin coal mine
- a stop work order was issued on July 15 after a significant roof fall in Tunnel 2; a smaller roof fall happened on July 9
- there were no injuries reported from either incident
- following the roof falls, the Department sought an expert review
- the review, which cost about $30,000, included examining mitigation work by the mine to date and determining if it meets current safety standards and industry best practices; the age, weathering and geology of the mine were also reviewed to determine the root cause of the roof falls and whether the mine is mitigating all possible issues
Consultant’s report – Review of Ground Support Design and Performance for Donkin Mine Tunnels 2 and 3: https://novascotia.ca/lae/healthandsafety/docs/donkin-mines-engineering-review-report.pdf
NOTE: This release was updated with the link to the consultant's report November 22, 2023.