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Canada: Donkin Mine Suffers Another Rockfalls



February 6, 2020 - In Canada, Kameron Collieries has experienced another rockfall at their Donkin Mine.


“This is in a production area, about 70 feet from where they were last mining,” said Scott Nauss, the senior director of inspections and compliance with the Department of Labor.

Nauss said the rockfall occurred at an intersection sometime over the weekend.

“There was no production, no mining going on,” he said. “The nightshift came in over the weekend and noticed it.”

The mine cordoned off the area and reported it to the department first thing Monday morning. Nauss said a stop-work order was issued for that section of the mine. He said they responded right away and conducted an inspection.

“We are still working on that inspection,” he said “We’re going to determine if they were in compliance with their ground control plan. This is the first one that occurred in a production area since they implemented the new revised ground control plan.”

The mine has been issued two follow-up orders: to clean up the rockfall and to do an assessment to determine what happened and implement some corrective measures to prevent a reoccurrence.

The inspection is not only in the area of the rockfall but also the other passageways.

Bolstering Shafts

Donkin Mine vice-president Shannon Campbell (right), talks to some workers in the wash plant at the Donkin Mine in this file photo. Kameron Coal has received four orders and six warnings since resuming operations at Donkin Mine with limited mining on Jan. 25. The operation of the mine was suspended by the Department of Labor and Advanced Education following a roof fall Dec. 28 during a holiday shutdown. 

File photo

The mine is using room and pillar mining method, which is like a grid of roadways and production areas. The rockfall happened at an intersection which, under the ground control plan, is required to have more stringent plans in place.

Nauss said Kameron has agreed to exceed their ground control plan in the short term.

“They are actually going to put more measures in place than what they agreed to in their plan.”

Since the coal mine opened in 2017, there have been 11 rockfalls. But Nauss said some occurred in travel ways that are no longer being used and some were in abandoned portions of the mine.

Nauss said any rockfall is always a concern.

“We take all rockfalls very seriously,” he said. “Fortunately no one was hurt in this case. We are holding them to industry best practices now and now we are assessing to determine if they were in compliance with the best practices and if they were, do we need to exceed industry best practice in this case.”

No Injuries, Damage

Paul McEachern, a spokesman for Donkin Mine, said crews discovered the rockfall early Monday at the production face, when coming in for their shift to do routine maintenance on the machinery before resumption of operations.

“There was no one injured, there was no equipment damaged, no one was in the area when the incident occurred,” he said.

“Production resumed in one of the unaffected areas Monday while the repairs were undertaken in the area of the fall.”

McEachern said the mine is working with DOL to determined what steps should be taken to endure it doesn’t happen again or risks are minimized.

There are 150 employed at the mine.

In a news release, Shannon Campbell, vice-president of Donkin, says the company notified department officials of the rockfall and inspectors were on site Monday. As normal procedure mining inspectors issued a stop-work order for the area of the mine impacted by the rockfall. Campbell said production resumed as scheduled in unaffected areas.

“While the roof fall was localized and affected only one intersection, we will work with Labour and Advanced Education officials to take remedial action and determine if additional steps are warranted,” Campbell further stated in the release.

Mining was suspended by the labour department following a roof fall on Dec. 28, 2018. The coal mine was on a holiday shutdown and no one was injured.

It was the sixth roof fall at the coal mine between July 2018 and December 2018.

On January 25, the labor department granted permission for the mine to conduct limited mining. The mine was in limited production for months.

In May 2019, a revised ground control plan for the coal mine was approved by the Nova Scotia Department of Labor and the mine resumed full operations.

On July 8, 2019, a rockfall occurred on Tunnel B, which is the main access and egress for the mine. In September 2019, a rockfall occurred in a travel way not used by the mine.

The mine was purchased by the Cline Group in 2014 and opened in February 2017. In February 2018, the mine celebrated its first coal production.