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Minto Coal Mines

Historically, coal mining contributed not only to the community and economy in Minto but also provided power for the rest of the province. Minto coal has been mined since the 1639 when coal was shipped to Boston. Prior to this, limited amounts of coal were shipped by water through Grand Lake to the St. John River or by horse to Fredericton. Large-scale coal mining began after completion of railway access to the village in 1904. Some of the coal was mined in underground operations but because the coal seams are located close to the surface, strip mining was less expensive and the preferred method.

In 1905, the use of a steam-powered clam-shell shovel marked the first use of mechanical mining in the area. The local population grew with the arrival of many immigrants from around the world who came to work in the companies engaged in mining in the Minto area.

As increased attention is paid to global warming and the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, the use of coal as a fuel to generate electricity has fallen out of favour. Minto coal has high sulphur and mercury content. The Grand Lake Generating Station, commissioned in 1931, did not meet new emissions regulations and was sometimes referred to as the “dirtiest power plant in Canada.” Both the NB Coal mine and the Grand Lake Generating Station are now closed, ending a long and prosperous coal era in Minto.