HALIFAX -- The Donkin coal mine in Cape Breton is closing permanently, operator Kameron Coal announced Monday.

In a release, Kameron Coal said that, due to geological conditions in the mine, it is ceasing production effective immediately.

This comes following a February 13 roof fall in the mine, which suspended operations pending an assessment of conditions by the province’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

No one was injured in the fall, which was the latest in a series of falls in the mine.

Another rockfall was reported in the same area of the mine on February 2. The mine also reported a roof collapse in July 2019, and the site suffered two other rockfalls in December 2018.

Billy Murchison started working underground at the mine just last summer. Now he’s without a job.


“I got the news today that I have to clean out my locker, and I’m no longer getting the call back,” says Murchinson. "It was a good revenue for my family, that’s for sure. I could have made good money there.”


Reportedly, more than 150 people will lose their jobs due to the closure -- a big blow to the area's economy, which is already suffering in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.


"People were excited about the mine, people were happy to be working,” says Paul Carrigan, a member of the Donkin Mine community liaison committee. “You would see the workers going to their shift in the morning, going to in the evening. There was some excitement there, and it’s very disappointing.”


“Hopefully the government will jump in and throw a few cheques their way, and see if they can pick them up a little bit," adds Hugie MacArthur, a retired safety rep with the United Mine Workers of America.


With employee insurance in his immediate future, Murchison says while the company’s reason for shutting down seemed mostly to be safety related, he says he never felt he was at-risk on the job.


“I’ve never had any fear for my safety down there, that’s for sure. I mean, rock falls happen in every mine," says Murchison.


The company said the mine will not be sealed, but that a small staff of about five will be kept on to ventilate it and keep it from flooding.