Dec '07/Jan '08

Nova Scotia

Success stories from the Maritimes

Mining in Nova Scotia 2007

By Paul Smith, liaison geologist, Geological Services Division, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources

Today, the Nova Scotia mining industry employs more than 5,300 skilledworkers at one of the highest average salaries in the province (more than $60,000 per year). Mining contributes more than $400 million to the GDP and supplies essential raw materials and manufactured products, which contribute to the sustainable social and economic fabric of the province in a communitybased, environmentally responsible manner. According to the Bureau of National Statistics, mining can also boast one of the lowest injury rates of all industries in the province, due to its rigorous training programs. Thanks to its rich and diverse mineral and energy resources, Nova Scotia is uniquely positioned to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Mining success stories

Success in the mining industry can be exemplified by Nova Scotia’s current mines. For example, the Sifto Canada Inc. mine in Napean has an annual domestic salt production of more than 100,000 tonnes and the Canadian Salt Company Ltd. mine in Pugwash has an annual de-icing salt production of one million tonnes. Another recent success story is that of MacLeod Resources Ltd. and its unique red marble quarry at Kennedy’s Big Brook in Cape Breton; annual production at this quarry exceeds 35,000 tonnes of red marble, which is destined for both local and export markets under the label “Canada’s Marble.”

Highly successful and community conscious gypsum quarries in Nova Scotia are operated by National Gypsum (Canada) Ltd. at East Milford, by Fundy Gypsum Company at Miller Creek and Wentworth, by Georgia-Pacific Canada Inc. at Melford and Sugar Camp and by Little Narrows Gypsum Company at Little Narrows. The total annual production from these operations is nearly 10 million tonnes of gypsum.

Other success stories abound. For example, Shaw Resources is a diversified company that runs several successful resource industries, including a silica sand operation at West Indian Road. In addition, limestone (a critical resource for cement, coal combustion and agriculture) is produced at several quarries, including production of approximately 500,000 tonnes from Lafarge Canada Inc. at Brookfield, 150,000 tonnes from the Nova Scotia Power Inc. at the Glen Morrison quarry and 25,000 tonnes from Mosher Limestone Company Ltd. at the Upper Musquodoboit/Hutchinson Settlement quarries. All of these operations include long-term, state-of-the-art reclamation projects that produce highly successful eco-systems.

When it comes to coal mining in Nova Scotia, success stories include the Pioneer Coal Ltd.mine in Stellarton, which has an annual production of nearly 400,000 tonnes, and the Thorburn Mining Ltd. mine in Coalburn, where progressive mining accounts for 60,000 tonnes of coal production per year. On a smaller scale, there is the 3061831 Nova Scotia Ltd.’s Greenhills Development coal project in Florence.When looked at as a whole, a consistent benefit of these successful coal mine operations is the final reclamation and rehabilitation of sites that have been highly disturbed by former mining operations, as well as the return of these lands to respective communities for multiple uses.

The most recent success story to emerge in Nova Scotia is the return to metal production in the province.Acadian Mining Corp., through its whollyowned subsidiary ScoZinc Ltd., has commenced zinc-lead production at its Scotia Mine and annual production revenues will be approximately $70 million. Zinc and lead concentrates are currently shipped from both Halifax and Ship Harbour to Switzerland. The company anticipates five years of open-pit operation, followed by two to three years of underground mining. Acadian Mining also hopes to develop additional resources in the area in order to extend the life of the operation.

Challenges

To say that mining is alive and well in Nova Scotia is an understatement. However, there is a growing gap between the expectations of consumers and their resource requirements.The province’s future prosperity and self-sufficiency in resource commodities (such as aggregates, dimension stone, marble, cement, gypsum, salt, sand, gravel and coal) continue to be threatened by a “not in my backyard” mentality. Citizens demand access to common products (such as wallboard, concrete, construction materials, electronics, high speed internet, computers, phones, automobiles, airplanes, highways and housing), but resist local development of the resources required to make them.The mineral industry argues that a slow and costly regulatory process, not applicable to other industries, is having a detrimental effect on economic viability. Despite the unbalanced regulatory burden placed on mining companies by multiple levels of government, the industry embraces sound environmental stewardship. The issues of costly time delays and loss of mineral resources through policies that restrict access to land remain the largest challenges.

The pivotal role of mining in the establishment of economic independence and sustainability for the province has been either forgotten or ignored by some.Today, mining is a necessity for human existence and virtually all mining companies have become more environmentally and socially conscious than at any other time in history.World-class reclamation projects are now a common industry practice and are a testament to benchmarking efforts not seen in other resource sectors.

The future

Commodity prices and the demand for metals and other mineral resources all over the globe have never been higher. Nova Scotia has a wealth of mineral products and changing technology continues to result in higher efficiencies of mineral recovery and productivity. As companies operate in the current social environment of responsible mining and community involvement, new projects coming on-stream, as well as those on the drawing board or in the early stages of development, should increasingly find it easier to acquire regulatory approvals in a timely fashion. New projects, such as the Touquoy gold deposit and the Donkin coal resource block, are leading the way in educating the public about how responsible the mining industry has become. The potential for additional gold mines along the Eastern Shore is substantial,as is the outlook for one or more base metal mines and a potentially significant graphite producer on Cape Breton Island. Add to this the potential for several new aggregate quarries and a prospective limestone operation, and it is possible to predict that the province’s mining-based GDP might double or triple in the near future. This kind of growth results in economic benefits stemming from ‘new’ money that is generated by a sustainable mining and mineral resource sector.

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