History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia
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Louis Frost
in Pictou

The Louis Frost Notes 1685 to 1962


McBean Colliery

This colliery is located near the village of Thorburn in Pictou County and is the only colliery operated by the Acadia Coal Company in the Pictou Coal field.

The colliery was opened in 1946 to recover the portion of the MacBean Seam not worked when the MacBean Mine was closed in 1889 due to a fire in the workings.

To recover this coai; which was of good quality, the Acadia Coal Company developed the Lanark slopes to the west of the original MacBean Colliery slopes in 1917. The development of these new slopes was discontinued in 1920 due to the inferior quality of the coal in the area entered by the slopes.

To open the present colliery the Lanark slopes, which dip at approximately 30 per cent near the surface, were dewatered and at a point 2800 feet from the surface a turn in an easterly direction was established to bring the slopes into the full pitch of the seam and into the area of good quality coal. Below the turn the seam dips at 27 per cent and gradually flattens off until the bottom of the basin is reached, where the depth of cover from the surface is 1496 feet.

The coal varies in height from 4 feet to 7 feet, and is of excellent quality. The roof consists of thinly bedded shale, which breaks down as the coal is worked. This roof is very difficult to hold. The pavement consists of a very hard shale band.

The method of work is longwall advancing and, due to heavy roof conditions, the faces are supported with steel friction props of a heavy type and roof bars. The installation of steel props, in addition to the usual saving in material costs, made possible the safe working of longwall faces.

Electricity is used throughout the mine for operating haulages, pumps, face shaker conveyors, coal cutters and rotary drills for boring the coal.

The mine is ventilated by a Sirocco type fan delivering 40,000 cu. ft. of air per minute against a water gauge of 3.5 inches. The make of gas in the mine is relatively small.

The make of water in the new workings is quite moderate and is handled by small air pumps having capacity of 50 g.p.m. to the main lodgment. The water is then relayed to the surface by a series of three 150 horsepower electrically driven, two-stage Cameron pumps having a rated capacity of 1200 gallons per minute.

A borehole connects the workings in the new mine with the old workings, which are kept dewatered by a two-stage Cameron pump having a capacity of 1200 g.p.m. and driven by a 100 horsepower motor.

The mine cars are of 3-ton capacity and are transported to the main slope by electrically driven main and tail haulage. On the slope, trips of seven cars are hoisted in balance to the surface by an electrically operated double drum hoist having a rated capacity of 450 horsepower.

The average output from the colliery is 950 tons per day from two longwall faces. Since the colliery was opened in 1946 it has produced 2,608,684 long tons of coal from a worked over area of 170 acres.


The surface plant at this colliery is of the simplest design. The trips are passed through a rotary tipple without uncoupling. The coal is loaded directly into railway cars for shipment to the wash plant, located at the Allan shaft site, where the coal is screened into various sizes and washed.

The product made is Run-of-Mine, Egg, Nut, Pea and Fines.

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Last Modified: 98-03-15

Authored by: Louis Frost

The information contained on this site is not provided for the purpose of factual
representation. Instead, it is provided in an historical context. Every effort has
been made to ensure that this information represents the actual content of the
original document authored by Louis Frost for the Dominion Coal Company
on or around 1962. Nevertheless, no warranties are provided in any respect.

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