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Nova Scotia government issues stop-work order at Donkin coal mine


Methane gas ignition at company's North Panel

Company's other panel allowed to still produce coal

Louisville, Kentucky —

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The Nova Scotia Department of Labor and Advanced Education issued a stop-work order Wednesday for one of two working sections at Kameron Coal's Donkin underground mine on the Canadian province's Cape Breton Island following a methane gas ignition Tuesday that had to be extinguished by miners, according to department and Morien Resources officials.

The incident, in which no one was injured, came just a week after Kameron, a subsidiary of US-based Cline Group, proclaimed Donkin to be back in "full operation" for the first time since late December after the latest of six roof falls in a five-month period hit Nova Scotia's only deep coal mine.

Donkin's two active sections, the North Panel and Bleeder Panel, extend deep under the Atlantic Ocean from the Cape Breton coastline. A department official disputed that assertion, saying the mine was still operating on a limited basis.

Shannon Kerr, a department spokeswoman, and Dawson Brisco, CEO of Halifax-based Morien, both confirmed the methane ignition and partial mine shutdown in phone interviews with S&P Global Platts.

Morien, once the mine's co-owner, has a coal tonnage royalty agreement with Kameron.

Kerr said Harold Carroll, the department's executive director of occupational safety and health, issued the order shutting the North Panel until the area can be thoroughly inspected. Department inspectors were at the scene Wednesday afternoon, she said, adding she has no idea how long the area will be off-limits to mining.

Kerr noted that the mine responded "appropriately" to the fire and reported the incident to authorities.

Repeated attempts to reach Shannon Campbell, Donkin general manager, and a company spokeswoman were unsuccessful.

Kerr did not know how many miners were underground at the time of the ignition.

Kerr said she believes the mine is still allowed to produce coal in the Bleeder Panel.

Donkin was expected to produce as much as 1.8 million st this year for the seaborne market and to serve a Nova Scotia Power contract. Officials have said the mine could turn out as much as 3 million st annually in a few years.

(Corrects name of Morien executive)

-- Bob Matyi,

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,