Point Aconi

The Point Aconi coal mine, before and after!

A surface mine operated at Point Aconi from 2006-2013 and today the site is greenspace with ponds and ocean views.

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

The mine was on the site of the old Prince Mine, which opened in 1975 and closed in 2001. It produced about 1 million tons of coal per year and sold it to Nova Scotia Power to generate electricity at the Point Aconi power plant, immediately next to the mine.

When the Prince Mine closed, it was being operated by Devco (the Cape Breton Development Corporation), whose mandate was to manage the eventual shutdown of Cape Breton’s coal mines while diversifying the island’s economy. Devco tried to find a buyer for Prince but was unsuccessful, and the closure of the mine marked the end – for a short while at least – of coal mining in Nova Scotia.

By 2001, Prince extended 8 kilometres under the ocean and it took miners 45 minutes to be transported to the coal face in the final years. Thanks to Devco, they were on the clock while in transit, a perk previous generations of miners didn’t get.

The modern Point Aconi surface mine extracted the remaining near-surface coal and cleaned up the site from the Prince Mine’s activities – at no expense to taxpayers since the reclamation was funded by selling the coal to Nova Scotia Power. The coal was used at the Lingan power plant as well as the Point Aconi plant.

The surface mine also cleaned up the remains of extensive historical bootleg mining operations: tunnels, tools, equipment and pillars of coal left in place to hold up the ground above. The site had many sinkholes caused by the bootleg mining - locals would extract coal to heat their homes in generations past. The bootleg pits went as deep as 80 feet down. The reclamation mining fixed these subsidence issues and stabilized the site, making it safe for future use.