DONKIN — Officials with Morien Resources Corp. say the Donkin mine could be in operation by 2016, in light of Monday's announcement of an American group's plan to purchase an interest in the mine.
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The gates were locked on the Donkin Mine on Monday but it's anticipated the locks won't be on for much longer. American-based Cline Group LLC is purchasing Glencore's 75 per cent share of the Donkin Mine, pending approval from the Nova Scotia government.
Officials at Morien Resources Corp. announced it has waived its right of first refusal in conjunction with the proposed sale of Glencore's 75 per cent interest in the Donkin coal mine, a move which has made way for U.S.-based Cline Group LLC to purchase Glencore's interest.
John Budreski, president and CEO of Morien Resources Corp., said Morien Resources was looking at purchasing other parts of the project, as no one else was going to do so, and they'd either have to go it alone or with another partner.
"We set out to have this mine get built," Budreski said. "There's a couple ways to achieve that, one would be by bringing in a new partner by Glencore or bringing in a new partner through our own direct efforts.
"I'm indifferent which way, so long as we have a mine project running, and now we do."
Morien Resources described the Cline Group as, "having a strong reputation as a high quality mine developer and operator.’"
Completion of the deal is subject to approval from the Nova Scotia government and finalization of the agreement.
Talk of the mine opening in 2016 was revived by the announcement.
"That's a decision by the new operator more than us but I think their plan is to do things sooner than later," said Budreski.
Budreski said work could commence in 2015. He said the mine is flooded with water right now and is at about the halfway mark.
"They have to go and pump that out and there is some remediation work to do on the two tunnels and there's different permits required to do that sort of work."
Coun. Kevin Saccary said he believes people had given up on the Donkin nine reopening, although he did not.
"I've always held out hope for Cape Breton," he said. "I've always been hopeful our economy will turn around here and I'm still hopeful.
"We'll soon have the revitalized industry up and running and I think it will pump a major economic boost into this year and the ripple effect will even be greater in respect to the economy."
Kevin Buchanan, owner of KACE Convenience Store at Dearn's Corner, said the sale of the Donkin mine is great news.
"Obviously to have that payroll in the communities around here — including Glace Bay — it's going to be great," he said.
Buchanan said many people had given up on the mining reopening.
"(At the last meeting) when Xstrata announced they were flooding the place — that's when you sit there with your mouth open and say, 'How could we have read this so wrong?'"
He is cautious about the latest news.
"You don't want to get your hopes up again."
Buchanan thinks the opening of the Donkin mine has the potential to change lives by enabling Cape Bretoners working out west to come home and as a boost for local businesses.
"The added traffic going by my store — it's gong to be a bonus. I think news of the mine is all great, great for the area and great for the people."
Coal has been mined in the Donkin area since the early 1860s. The mine has been closed since 2001. Reopening the mine could lead to 300 or more new jobs.