History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia
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Louis Frost
since 1932
Mine Rescue
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The Louis Frost Notes 1685 to 1962

Dominion Steel & Coal Corp., LTD.

Cape Breton and Mainland Collieries
Improvement of Operation and Mechanization of the Collieries since 1932

Substantial changes have been made in the method of work and in the introduction of mechanical equipment in the collieries since 1932. The use of electrical energy for transportation and other services, had materially increased by 1947, also the use of shaker conveyors on longwall faces and conveyor belts on levels to transport the coal to centralized loading points was general, and the use of compressed air as motive power for face machinery was greatly increased over the quantity used in 1932.

In 1937 an attempt was made to introduce mechanical loading equipment in No. 20 Colliery, but this failed because the workmen refused to operate the equipment. However, following the Carroll Commission enquiry in 1945, the workmen agreed to accept mechanization and, following the year 1947, there was a gradual change over to complete mechanization of the coal loading services underground, with the introduction of Joy loaders in room and pillar operations and the development in 1950 of the DOSCO Continuous Miner for cutting and loading coal on longwall faces, and subsequent installation of these machines on all longwall faces where the height of coal permitted this use.

To improve methods of support on the mechanical faces, the Corporation has introduced steel props of the friction type with a great measure of success and to date 23 faces have been equipped with steel props at a cost of $1,963,000.

Since 1947 the Corporation has purchased for its Cape Breton operations, 39 DOSCO Continuous Miners at a cost of $2,790,900, thirteen Joy loaders and three Joy type Continuous Miners and auxiliary equipment, for room and pillar work costing $830,000. In addition, the Corporation has spent very large sums of money for auxiliary equipment for the underground services and for electrification of surface plants to improve the operation of the colliery. In general, the use of electric energy in the Cape Breton Collieries has been substantially supplemented from the 62,177,905 K.W. hours used in 1932 to the 108,614,422 K.W. hours used in the fiscal year 1962. This is an increase of 74.7 per cent in the use of electrical energy, in spite of the closure of Dominion No. 4 Colliery and Florence Collieries prior to 1962 and the closure of Dominion No. 16 in August of that year.

The Dominion Coal Company and the Old Sydney Collieries have also installed 54 - 100 horsepower, 15-ton underground Diesel locomotives, purchased 1834 - 3-ton aluminum mine cars and has replaced existing track rails with 85-lb. per yard rails to provide for heavier transportation loads and to improve transportation facilities in the operating sections.

Surface transportation is also in the course of being reorganized and existing steam locomotives are being replaced by Diesel operated units.

To improve the quality of the coal produced in the Old Sydney and Acadia Collieries, Wash Plants were built at Sydney Mines and Stellarton at a cost of $1,459,390.

During the period under review, the Emery Seam Collieries were closed and the operation of the Phalen Seam in No. 1-B and No. 2 Collieries discontinued without serious impairment to the overall output. The output from the remaining collieries was increased to provide the saleable output required by the Corporation.

Recently it has been necessary to close Caledonia, No. 16 and Florence Collieries to meet realistic Coal Sales requirements.

At Sydney Mines an inclined tunnel 3,345 ft. long was driven between the surface and Princess Colliery shaft bottom, at a cost of $2,347,026.00 to eliminate shaft hoisting and to increase the output capacity of Princess Colliery, the coal being conveyed from the pit bottom to the surface on a cable belt type of conveyor, the first of its kind to be installed on the American Continent, and thence to the coal preparation plant located about a mile from Princess Colliery shaft.

Surface plants at all the collieries were reorganized and improvements made to the coal cleaning facilities where required. Such surface plants as were still served by steam boilers were completely electrified, steam being abandoned as a motive power and, where necessary, special automatically fired units were installed to provide heat for surface buildings.

The capital expenditure between 1945 and 1960 for mechanization and other improvements underground and on the surface amounted to $28,899,193. of which $ll,622,158. was spent on the mechanization of the coal getting and other services underground, exclusive of the cost of development of tunnels, wash plants, or steel supports for the longwall faces.

To reduce travelling time of the workmen from the surface to their working places, mechanical haulage is provided in all collieries to a point as near the working faces as possible, and walking distances have been reduced from an average of 1.05 miles in 1930 to 0.6 miles in 1962.


The program of improving the ventilation in the collieries, inaugurated prior to 1925 and continued through 1932, is being actively carried on up to the present time, and the capacity of surface fans has been increased to provide for large increases of ventilation if required. The rated capacity of the surface fan at No. 1-B Colliery has been raised to 400,000 c.f.m. with a water gauge of 12 inches and No. 2 Colliery fan to 300,000 c.f.m. at 12 inches of water gauge.

Due to the very great distances the air has to travel, it has been advisable to resort to the use of booster fans underground, in order to provide sufficient ventilation at a moderate pressure in the working sections. These installations are in some instances the equivalent in capacity to the surface installations and are extremely well built and maintained.

Airways in all collieries have been enlarged and experiments are in progress with steel arched roadways having an area of 150 square feet, and completely lined throughout the inner circumference of the arch to reduce frictional resistance to the flow of the ventilating current.

The extent of the expansion of the workings for ventilation purposes can best be gauged by the length of roadways necessary to maintain the ventilation at this date.

In 1932, eleven collieries were operating in the Cape Breton area and the total length of airways in use amounted to 148.7 miles. In 1962 only six collieries were in operation, and the total length of airways amounted to 139.1 miles.

These changes have resulted in ventilating the collieries at a much higher ventilation pressure then in 1932, and in some instances due to the greater quantity of air necessary, the Corporation has had to resort to booster fans as already indicated, to maintain a reasonable ventilation pressure, with the net result that the general ventilation of the collieries has improved and is being maintained at a reasonably high standard.

The average quantity of air and the condition of the air leaving the mine is shown below:-

All Collieries                           1931             1962

Number of Collieries Working               ll                6
Quantity Circulated per unit           82,500          152,600  c.f.m.
Water Gauge                               3.9            12.48
Miles of Airways Circulated per Unit	 13.5             21.5
Make of Gas per Minute                    552              793
Methane Content of Return Air            0.67%            0.52%

Steps are now under way to further improve the ventilation in Dominion Nos. 20 and 26 Collieries, by development of a new motor road in the former and the installation of a large booster fan at the entry end of the tunnel entering No. 26 Colliery from the Phalen Seam.

The following table summarizes the outstanding changes that have taken place since 1932, when the collieries were in the initial stages of change-over to the longwall system of mining and the betterments that have been obtained since that time.

                                           1932            1962

(1) Electric Power                   55,696,905     108,614,422  k.w.h.
          Increased 78%

(2) Compressed Air Consumption           86,465          57,502
          Decreased 34.6%

(3) Longwall Mined Coal                    24.6%           88.0%
          Increased 61.4%

(4) Mechanically Loaded longwall Coal         -            74.0%

(5) Mechanically Loaded Room Coal             -             5.0%

(6) Hand Loaded Longwall Coal              24.6%           14.0%

(7) Hand Loaded and Narrow Work Coal       74.4%            7.0%

(8) Tons per man shift worked               2.2%	   3.19%

(9) Conveyors (all by pan)               19,170          52,250  ft.
          Increased 172%

(10) DOSCO Miners                             -              39

(ll) Joy Loaders                              -              13

(12) Airways Decreased in Length          148.7           139.1  miles

(13) Airway Enlargement	          $1,486,000.00    2,146,598.00
          and Reconstruction

(14) Steel Propped Faces                      -              23
          Expenditure $1,963,000

(15) Expenditures on                          -    1,459,394.00
          Two Coal Preparation Plants

(16) Expenditures on Mechanization            -   12,597,158.00

(17) Expenditures on Improvements             -   15,817,451.00

(18) Length of Walk for Face Workers       1.05             0.6  miles

In addition to the betterments tabulated above, new collieries have been developed and older, less efficient collieries discontinued. The expenditure for these new developments has not been included in the expenditure shown for betterments and include Dominion Nos. 18, 20 and 26 Collieries. McBean Colliery of the Acadia Coal Company and the new tunnel for the return airways in Princess Colliery.

There have also been other betterments to the operation not dealt with in detail, such as change from 25 cycle power operation to 60 cycle power, better lighting and stonedusting in the collieries. Also the introduction of automatic doors on haulage ways for better control of the ventilation, with a substantial saving in operating costs.

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Last Modified: 98-01-06

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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