Town once famous for mines could start supplying Nova Scotia Power
An industry that was once the economic lifeblood of Springhill, N.S., could soon return to the town, as an Antigonish company seeks the green light to sample 10,000 tonnes of coal starting as soon as early next year.
Springhill Coal Mines Ltd., a subsidiary of Nova Construction, wants to dig an open pit to pluck the coal from land it owns in the Junction Road area and ship it to Trenton to test as fuel in Nova Scotia Power’s generating station.
“We’re still a province that burns a lot of coal per year to generate electricity,” Nova Construction President Donald Chisholm told CBC News. “For a number of years to come, that’s probably going to remain the same.”
Springhill Coal Mines submitted an application to Nova Scotia Environment on July 27. At this point, the company is only applying to drill for test amounts and any move to open a full scale open pit mine would be subject to a fresh application and full environmental assessment.
Nova Construction and its subsidiaries have owned a series coal mines in Nova Scotia since the 1970s. Its only remaining site is in Stellarton, a Nova Scotia Power supplier.
Chisholm said the Stellarton mine will likely only be open for another three years and Nova is eyeing a replacement source for the coal it provides to Nova Scotia Power.
“Springhill seems to be the next one to certainly explore,” Chisholm says.
The town has a long association with coal mining, with the first reserves leased in 1825. But the underground mines have also been deadly, with disasters in 1891, 1956 and 1958 that killed scores of workers.
And while Springhill’s history may be steeped in coal, some in town are far from thrilled at the prospect of a surface mine.
‘Over my body’
Ralph Ross has been an opponent since word began to spread about two years ago that Nova was considering an open pit near where the old underground mine system sits.
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