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Donkin mine jobs come at high cost

Sierra Club Canada condemns the Nova Scotia government’s decision to allow Kameron Coal Ltd. to resume coal mining operations in Cape Breton. What’s being promoted as a boon for the local economy comes at a steep price for the community, worker safety, Nova Scotia taxpayers—and of course, the environment.

“Why, after issuing Kameron Coal 152 warnings for safety violations and 119 noncompliance orders at the Donkin mine, is the NS Department of Labour saying we can now trust the company with worker safety and to protect the environment?” asks Gretchen Fitzgerald, the National Programs Director for Sierra Club Canada. “The mine self-reports its greenhouse gas  emissions and is exempt from paying for its carbon pollution, so we have no way of knowing, much less limiting, its impact on climate targets. This mine should never have been allowed to re-open given these serious issues.”

According to Dave Risk, an expert in methane emission measurements, the Donkin coal mine is likely the largest methane emitter in the province. Workers have also reported safety concerns at the mine and intimidation by Kameron Coal for trying to form a union. 

“Mining operations like this always end up costing us more than they’re worth in the long run,” says Tynette Deveaux, with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Atlantic campaign. “Taxpayers will be on the hook for the cost of toxic cleanups, repairing roads damaged by the haul trucks, the public inquiries following mining disasters—the list goes on.”

Cape Breton is already dealing with the burden of abandoned coal mines. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has to treat approximately 6 billion litres of contaminated waste water from abandoned mines every year. 

Is it worth it?

According to Morien Resources, the Nova Scotia government earns a royalty of just $1.20 per tonne from Donkin Mine’s coal. Coal is currently trading at $340 US a ton. 

“I don’t know if you call that windfall earnings or highway robbery, but surely the people of this province deserve better from their government,” says Deveaux. “Do Premier Houston and Minister Rushton take us for fools?”

Sierra Club Canada is once again calling upon the Nova Scotia government to shut down the Donkin Mine and live up to its commitments to support sustainable prosperity.

Media Contacts:

Tynette Deveaux
Beyond Coal Atlantic Campaign Coordinator
Sierra Club Canada 
tynetted@sierraclub.ca

Gretchen Fitzgerald
National Programs Director 
Sierra Club Canada
gretchenf@sierraclub.ca

Additional resources

Did you know? Donkin mine factsheet – Beyond Climate Promises

Past safety violations loom large over Canadian coal mine, National Observer

Media release: Donkin coal mine needs to be shut down for good

Editorial: Donkin coal mine reopening would be disastrous for the environment

Donkin mine greenhouse gas emissions should be under cap and trade, experts say | CBC News

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Donkin Coal Mine

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