Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Coal Dreams

Did you know that fluctuations in the market price of coal have a direct impact on the geological conditions in coal mines?

When the price of coal rises, these conditions magically improve.

It’s an economic-geologic phenomenon begging for further study, in place of which I am simply offering anecdotal evidence. Here’s Paul MacEachern of Kameron Collieries explaining why the company was closing the Donkin Mine in 2020:

McEachern said the decision to cease operations was only due to the adverse geologic conditions in the mine.

“The geology is just very, very challenging,” he said. “It’s not a decision they wanted and it’s not a decision they took lightly and it’s a decision they took a long, hard look at.”

At that point, coal was sitting around $50 a tonne.

Aerial view Donkin Coal Mine

Aerial view, Donkin Mine. (Source: Morien Resources)

Now here’s CBRM Councilor James Edwards, who sits on the mine’s community liaison committee, talking to the CBC in a story published Thursday:

“I don’t want to say that they are definitely reopening, because there’s several approvals required, but they have announced that they are looking to reopen,” Edwards said.

“At this point, they have not been given the approval to reopen. They’re just gearing toward that eventuality.”

The price of coal, Edwards pointed out, has risen dramatically:

“The last I checked it was over $300 U.S., so I’m not surprised by this at all,” he said.

It’s a generally accepted fact that when coal hits over $300 US, coal seams stabilize, rockfalls cease and governmental stop-work spontaneously self-destruct.

What’s more, while emissions themselves remain, concern over emissions and all thoughts of climate change vanish into thin air.

Conversely, though, when coal prices drop, geological conditions deteriorate, so keep an eye on the price of coal, particularly coking coal, which soared to dizzying heights in March but has fallen 30% since.


‘Bonkers Sequel’

Speaking of “Kameron Collieries,” the name always struck me as weird and discovering owner Chris Cline had named the company after his teenage daughter just made it weirder—who, in the 21st century, would want a namesake coal mine? That both Chris and Kameron died in a helicopter crash in 2019 just ramps up the weird to epic proportions.

I think the name rubs me the wrong way because I’m of Scottish descent, live in a province that had a premier named “Cameron” for what seemed like half a century and like my alliteration. Mind you, I can see why “Kameron Kollieries” was probably not an option, suggesting, as it does, that the owners can’t spell.

But as I was writing today’s piece, the name of another double-K company popped into my head unbidden (buckle up, it’s about to get truly random): “Klothes That Klank,” a “metallic plastics” clothing company established by one Cruella de Vil circa 1967.

It’s referenced in The Starlight Barking, author Dodie Smith’s sequel to the One Hundred and One Dalmations, a book I distinctly remember borrowing from the McConnell Library and enjoying as a kid. But I realized this morning, reading a Twitter synopsis of the book by @SketchesbyBoze, that a) most people have never heard of it and b) it was “bonkers.”

For someone who questions just about everything in real life, I think I suspend disbelief a little too readily when it comes to fiction. (Case in point: I once watched an episode of MacGyver in which he was shot at while escaping in a hot air balloon and managed to patch the bullet hole and save himself. I was entirely convinced of this until my cousin said, “I guess that bullet is lodged in the silk on the other side of the balloon.”) Likewise, I apparently read The Starlight Barking without questioning any of its premises, not even the space dog.

On the other hand—and probably more importantly—in real life, I don’t actually believe higher coal prices improve mine safety or dispel the threat of climate change.