Coalburn is a former coal mine but you wouldn’t know by looking at it today. The mine was reclaimed in 2005 and now it is beautiful rolling fields with a pond and lots of wildlife.

It’s a great example of reclamation mining – cleaning up historical mines by completing extraction and returning the land to nature or preparing it for other uses.

The first coal mine in Coalburn, Pictou County, called the Marsh Mine, was operated by the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company between 1900-1909. 150,000 tons of coal were produced from the MacKay Seam. The seam was 4 feet, 6 inches in height and was worked on a pillar and room system, in which "rooms" of ore are dug out while "pillars" of untouched material are left to support the roof.

The mine was abandoned in 1909 because coal could be obtained more cheaply at that time from the Intercolonial and Acadia Coal Companies.

In 1915 a sub-lease of parts of the area was granted to the Milford Mining Company, which opened a mine on the Captain Seam in 1917. In 1920 the Acadia Coal Company bought the mining rights and renamed the mine “Acadia No. 4.” Acadia operated it until 1921 when the mine was closed due to low demand for coal. The mine was allowed to fill with water.

The Captain Seam averages about 4 feet in thickness in this area and Acadia No. 4 was also worked on the pillar and room system.

In 1920 the Milford Mining Company had opened another small mine on an outcrop of the MacKay Seam which also became the property of the Acadia Coal Company. It was renamed the Acadia No. 6 Mine. This mine was also closed in early 1921 and was allowed to fill with water.

In 1931 a sub-lease of part of this area was granted to the Greenwood Coal Company. The Acadia No. 6 Slopes were re-opened and development started on both sides of the slope. The output was 120 tons per day.

In the modern era, Pioneer Coal from Antigonish started operating a surface mine at Coalburn in 1999. The company tested its NovaMiner 2000 at the mine, a continuous mining machine that Pioneer built and patented. The NovaMiner 2000 can mine coal up to one thousand feet underground by cutting tunnels into the side of a surface mine while a series of conveyor belts carry the coal out of the tunnel.

This reduces environmental impacts by making it unnecessary to remove overburden (the rock, dirt and vegetation above the coal). The NovaMiner also means that miners do not need to go underground.

Continuous mining machines are used worldwide, but prior to the NovaMiner 2000, they were limited to working a 15-degree angle. The NOVAMINER was designed specifically for Pictou County’s steeply-dipping coal seams (i.e. the Foord seam dips at 26 degrees).

The NovaMiner was later used at the Point Aconi surface coal mine, another reclamation mining project (

Both sites are greenspace today.