Kameron Coal hires former NS MLA and wins approval to operate Donkin mine until 2029

Canada’s only underground coal mine is now set to operate for at least seven more years.

On Friday, the Donkin coal mine in Cape Breton got the industrial green light to continue operating until 2029 from the provincial government’s Department of Environment and Climate Change.

The mine reopened in September after a shutdown between 2017 and 2020 when more than a dozen roof collapses and other safety warnings prompted a series of intermittent stop-work orders from the province to Kameron Coal. Now that the price of metallurgical coal (used to make steel) has skyrocketed, the mine is back in operation after the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration approved its reopening plan.

The government also issued new terms that the mine must meet under the approval, including the installation of a degassing system (aid in methane venting) and subsequent reporting and response to complaints from community members within the five days. The mine is also “expected to contribute to meeting Nova Scotia’s legislated greenhouse gas emissions targets,” according to a release from the province

For Tynette Deveaux of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Atlantic campaign, it is wrong for the government to ignore the harmful effects of allowing a coal mine to continue operating.

After a full year, the mine is expected to produce enough coal to spew around eight million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when it burns. The three million tons of coal the mine will produce each year will generate as many greenhouse gas emissions as the annual energy use of more than one million homes, more than the entire population of Nova Scotia.

She calls the approval “a sad day for Nova Scotia” and said it’s accented by a new Kameron Coal employee, a former Glace Bay MLA. Geoff McLellan.

According to documents obtained by National Observer of CanadaMacLellan now works for the company, which vocally supported during his time in government. Referring to coal from the Donkin mine, he saying the canadian press in 2017 “we’re going to produce it for as long as we can.”

The town of Glace Bay is a 20-minute drive from the mine, in the neighboring district of Cape Breton East. In mid-November, MacLellan Announced he left his position as Vice Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. He has been involved in high-level politics since 2010 and served as the MLA for Glace Bay from 2010 to 2021. He was also energy minister from 2017 to 2018.

He also chaired the Halifax Regional Municipality Housing Task Force. a government Press release He said he “will remain chair of the task force until a new chair is appointed in the near future,” noting that his last day was November 10.

Today, the province granted industrial approval for the Donkin mine through 2029. And according to the documents, former Glace Bay MLA Geoff MacLellan has started working for Kameron Coal since stepping down in November. Story here:

The information that MacLellan now works for the mine arose when he was sent a copy at the end of correspondence from Environment and Climate Change Nova Scotia about a study on noise complaints from nearby residents, who can hear the ventilation fan from the mine miles away.

The letter is addressed to the Cow Bay Environmental Coalition, which has raised concerns with the government about noise, emissions and other environmental issues at the mine. MacLellan has cc’s at the bottom. Next to his name, “Kameron Coal Management Limited” and a company email address.

Then-Nova Scotia Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan watches a video about offshore oil exploration during an announcement at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Tutton

National Observer of Canada contacted MacLellan via email, as well as Morien Resources, which has royalties in the mine and made the reopening announcement for Kameron Coal. They did not respond in time for publication.

Environment and Climate Change Nova Scotia did not respond to questions about its employment.

“The Department of Environment and Climate cannot discuss employment information from private companies. We are not working with Geoff MacLellan,” the department said in a statement.

A screenshot of a Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change document provided to National Observer of Canada by the Cow Bay Coalition.

MacLellan’s move from public office to work for Kameron Coal rings alarm bells for Deveaux, who said workers in Cape Breton need to see more government support for clean, sustainable job creation for the area, which he sees a high unemployment rates.

“I would say to the people of Nova Scotia, how are we going to respond to that? Are we going to shrug and say, ‘Well, that’s the way things are done here.’ And accept that the government is going to have the back of a coal mine before it has the back of a community? Deveaux said.

“Or we’ll call it up and say, ‘You shouldn’t be able to jump from political office to, weeks later, be employed by a company at the center of controversy.'”

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