The Rise and Fall of the Nova Scotia Coal Industry Essay

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The Rise and Fall of the Nova Scotia Coal Industry

Coal mining has always been an important component of Nova Scotia's economy, landscape and culture. Together with cod fishing it was the primary export and employer for the regions population. With both industries now failing, the poor economic climate will no doubt have an effect on the population. This paper attempts to examine the economic conditions, market forces, and political maneuvering that gave rise to the coal industry in Nova Scotia as well as those contributing to its demise.

Coal Formation

The first stage in the formation of the fossil fuel we know as coal is large accumulations of organic matter, an anoxic environment, and large amounts of time. Dead plant
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So generally the more pressure and heat that the peat experiences the higher the concentration of carbon and the more efficient the fuel. However, too much heat and pressure may result in the changing of coal to graphite (See Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Graph illustrating the relationship between carbon concentration and fuel efficiency. Note the decline in heating value as more volatiles are removed Source: Montgomery 1990.

The coal present in eastern Canada was formed in the Fundy Basin of deposition. This basin developed after the Acadian orogeny . After these mountains were formed they immediately underwent physical and chemical weathering, and sediment washed down their slopes to be deposited in the Fundy Basin. In the Fundy basin sediment was further deposited in various sub basins compacting the peat layers present and forming the coalfields of Nova Scotia. The Riversdale fields were the first to be covered by sediment and therefore the oldest followed by the Cumberland deposits and the youngest and most extensive deposits, the Pictou group (Calder, 1985).

Rise of the Coal Industry

The first historical mention of coal in Nova Scotia was by then Governor Nicholas Denys in dispatches to France in 1673. In his dispatches he wrote that there was "a mountain of good coal four leagues up the Spanish River" near Cow Bay, Cape Breton Island. The first mining operation to be set up was by the

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