History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia
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Louis Frost
of Sydney
of Sydney
Coal Co.

The Louis Frost Notes 1685 to 1962

History of Sydney Coal Field

Coal was first mined in the Sydney coal field by the French military authorities from crop openings in the year 1685. Later circa 1720, organized mining was conducted in the Blockhouse Seam in the Morien Basin. For the next 100 years, outcrop mining was done in various parts of the field. In the year 1825, the General Mining Association was formed and, two years later, an effort made to do systematic mining in the Sydney Mines and New Waterford districts. In 1849 the Crown conveyed its interests in the minerals of the Province to the Government of Nova Scotia. In 1857 the General Mining Association, which till then held under sublease all the mineral areas of the Province, in consideration of certain concessions and privileges, surrendered its holdings to the Government of Nova Scotia, reserving, however, for its own operation certain areas in Cumberland, Pictou and Cape Breton counties, totaling 30 square miles. Shortly afterwards, several mining companies were formed and the mines were opened up in the Glace Bay district. At the time of the formation of the Dominion Coal Company, the following coal companies were operating in the Sydney coal field.

  • General Mining Association (Sydney Mines)
  • Sydney & Louisbourg Coal Company
  • International Coal Company
  • Glace Bay Mining Company
  • Messrs. Archibald Company
  • Gardiner Coal Company
  • Caledonia Coal Mining Company

All of these companies, except the General Mining Association, which still retained its area at Sydney Mines, became consolidated in 1893 under a charter granted a new Company known as the Dominion Coal Company.

In l90l the General Mining Association sold out its interests in Sydney Mines to the Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company.

The outputs from Dominion Coal Company mines in five-year periods from the date of its formation to the present, are as follows:

              Long Tons    Net Tons  
1894 - 1898   5,398,877   6,046,742  
1899 - 1903  12,547,891  14,053,638  
1904 - 1908  16,862,246  18,885,716  
1909 - 1913  19,498,695  21,838,538  
1914 - 1918  19,812,425  22,189,916  
1919 - 1923  l5,605,864  17,478,568  
1924 - 1928  16,507,987  18,488,945  
1929 - 1933  14,543,660  16,288,899  
1934 - 1938  18,247,357  20,437,040  
1939 - 1943  19,253,927  21,564,398  
1944 - 1949  14,002,764  15,683,096  
1950 - 1954  16,406,728  18,375,535  
1955 - 1959  16,014,558  17,936,305  
1960 - 1962   8,455,741   9,470,430  

At the present time in the Cape Breton Coal Field, the Glace Bay district contributes 46 percent, the New Waterford district 37 percent and Sydney Mines 17 percent of the coal produced in the area.

Due to submarine conditions, it is not possible to determine accurately the tonnage yet recoverable from this field. Already approximately 219,0OO,OOO tons has been extracted and it is estimated that 257 million tons of economically recoverable coal is still available within proved areas of the Dominion Coal Company, Limited and 23-1/2 million tons within the area of the Old Sydney Collieries, of a quality equal to that being mined at the present time, and that the recoverable coal without regard to quality or economic feasibility within the limits of five miles seawards from the shore is approximately 947 million tons, or sufficient to last for nearly 200 years at the present rate of production.

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Last Modified: 98-01-05

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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