Understanding the employment opportunities at the new Donkin Coal Mine was the objective of the management of the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office (MEBO) as they toured the mine yesterday, including a tip underground. The mine owners are in high gear preparing for the mine to go into coal production in the next month ortwo. Mine Manager, Shad Todd, is shown with Alex Paul, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office and Owen Fitzgerald, Director of Industry and Government Engagement with MEBO, just before they went underground to tour the mine.

In May the MEBO Board of Directors received a briefing on the new Donkin Coal Mine by senior management from owners, Kameron Coal and Cline Coal. The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office Board of Directors, made up of the five Unama’ki Chiefs, directed MEBO to take the lead on this project related to employment and training. MEBO management then met with Donkin Mine officials to take a detailed look at employment opportunities and timelines. Today MEBO management toured the mine.

Mine officials say the coal seam is 3.8 km out under the ocean and the total coal reserve has been identified as a half billion tons. Sixty percent of this coal is recoverable and Cline and Kameron Coal plan to eventually mine two million tons a year with production to start this summer. Mine officials estimate there will be 135 mining jobs when the mine is in production, with an additional 35 jobs on the surface as well as trucking jobs. An underground coal mine has not operated in Cape Breton in more than 15 years.

The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office builds relationships with large industry, works to understand their needs and works to help fill those needs through training and support. MEBO is focused on large industry in Nova Scotia and seeks to maximize employment and business opportunities for local Aboriginals. MEBO works for all five First Nation communities in Cape Breton (Unama’ki).