Mining execs meet Springhill public

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Christopher Gooding
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Town council meeting used to learn more about proposed Springhill strip mine

SPRINGHILL – The company exploring possible coal extraction in Springhill faced its critics head-on Tuesday.

Opponents to a proposed strip mine in Springhill were outside the Town of Springhill before a presentation by the company behind the operation on Tuesday.

SPRINGHILL – The company exploring possible coal extraction in Springhill faced its critics head-on Tuesday.

Representatives with Nova Construction were invited by Springhill Mayor Max Snow to use the town’s regular monthly meeting as an opportunity to inform citizens on its plans to harvest surface coal from beneath land near Junction Road.

John Amirault and John Chisolm took the floor, with Amirault handling the details of what Nova Construction proposes and right now its proposing very little pending tests on the quality of coal.

“I have to be fair and say this is at the very early stages of investigating,” Amirault said.

The allure of the property, Amirault explained, is the coal seams come very close to the surface, meaning any strip mining would only require 100 feet of extraction instead of the 1,000-plus feet in other areas of the province. The only way the company will know it is going to mine in Springhill is to test the coal. 

“The best way to look at the seams is to open the up,” Amirault said. “Study the seams, study the geology, get a sense of what type of rocks the soil contains and sample the coal.”

There’s no doubt there is still coal beneath Springhill but for Nova Construction’s purposes it needs to be the right type of coal. With the power plant in Trenton, N.S. being the only real buyer, if the coal doesn’t produce equal heat to what it is using now or contains contaminating sulfur, it would bring the plant to a halt.

If it is the right type of coal, however, there could be a prospective mining operating, which makes a lot of members of the public uneasy.

Amirault says the proposed mining operation should be well away from the water levels protected by the province for its mine-based geothermal resource, but the founder and one of the leading authorities on mine-based geothermal wasn’t convinced.

“The water is 20 feet down… the area you’re proposing, if you go down 20 feet you’re in the mine water,” Ross said.

Homeowners in the area are also concerned with the proximately and the potential impact blasting could have on their homes. Stories of homeowners needing to go to court to prove structure damage to their properties were a result of strip mining did not sit well with some.

Not everyone in the audience was dead opposed to the company’s proposal. Former town-councilor Norman Rushton addressed council and the Nova Construction representatives, noting any strip mining in the community would be short-lived and short-term impacts versus long-term need to be weighed.

“I believe our future is coal. I don’t believe it's a pit mine, but a coal mine,” Rushton said. “But look after these people, sir. They have homes. They have everything in the area your going to mine… while you’re here look after them.”

Tuesday’s council meeting and presentation does not replace the company’s responsibility to hold public consultation meetings as it progresses, but Springhill Mayor Snow said he felt the presentation is the beginning of the education process with the public.

“It’s at the early stages and it’s all new to us,” Snow said. “There’s a lot of questions and I’m very sensitive to the concerns of our people. We, as council, want to make sure everything is in place. We are going to be watching every move: environmental assessments, the mining rights, but our geothermal is

Organizations: Town council

Geographic location: Springhill, Junction Road, Trenton

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  • Karen Hunter
    November 26, 2013 - 17:16

    Those opposed to it should speak to the people of Westville who had to live it for 5 years; where we couldn't open a window, hang out clothes, carpets were ruined, siding on our homes was ruined!