By Sharon Montgomery-Dupe
February 9, 2019 - Donkin Mine officials say all of their employees are now back to work following a roof fall in December which suspended operations.
There are 120 people employed at the coal mine.
“We are pleased to have all employees back to work, with some taking on temporary part-time roles,” said Shannon Campbell, vice-president of Donkin Mine, in an email response to questions from the Cape Breton Post.
“We are doing what we can to lessen the financial impact” on employees.
The Nova Scotia Department of Labor and Advanced Education suspended operations at Donkin Mine following a roof fall on Dec. 28.
There were no mining operations underway at the time of the incident because the mine was on holiday shutdown. There were no injuries.
There have been six roof falls at the mine since July but provincial officials cited the Dec. 28 roof fall as more serious and it led to the suspension of production.
On Jan. 25, the department of labor granted Kameron Coal approval for limited mine activity at 1,600 feet in a more stable part of Donkin Mine.
Officials with the labor department say they’ve engaged an independent ground control expert from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration from Pittsburgh, Pa. to assist with their review of Donkin Mine’s ground control procedure plan.
“As always, we engage external consultants when certain expertise is required related to Donkin Mine that we do not possess within the department,” said labor department spokesperson Shannon Kerr.
Kerr said the department’s most recent inspection of Donkin Mine was conducted on Wednesday.
As earlier reported by the Post, Campbell said a revised ground control procedure was submitted to the labor department on Jan. 16. However on Friday, Campbell said after further consultations and submissions, a new ground control procedure was submitted Jan. 31.
Campbell said the independent third-party ground control expert is expected to make a site visit within the next two weeks. He said production remains suspended until the new ground control procedure is accepted by the labor department.
“We are focused on safely completing the work at hand and look forward to progressing through the details of the new ground control plan with the provincial regulators,” he said.
“Kameron Coal is confident that the plan submitted is sufficient to further minimize the risk of roof falls.”
The Donkin Mine is owned by Kameron Coal, a Halifax subsidiary of the Cline Group. Coal production began in February 2017. However, following numerous inspections during the mine’s first three and a half months of operations, 10 compliance orders and 29 warnings for violations of workplace safety and underground mining regulations were issued by the labour department.