Chris Cline has turned his shovel north to begin digging into Canadian coal. In January, Kameron Collieries – a Canadian-based subsidiary of the self-made billionaire’s company, the Cline Group – announced that the Donkin coal mine in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia would re-open this summer. Kameron Collieries bought Glencore’s 75 per cent interest in the project in 2014 followed by the purchase of the remaining interest from Morien Resources in early 2015.
According to Jim Bunn, vice-president of operations at Cutlass Collieries – a Cline Group company of which Kameron Collieries is a subsidiary – reviving the mine will bring many benefits to the country. “Donkin coal could potentially replace imported petroleum coke from the United States and coal from both the U.S. and South America,” Bunn said. “This should benefit not just Nova Scotia Power and their cost and reliability of fuel supply, but also the balance of trade for Canada overall.”
An affiliate of the Cline group also purchased Coalspur Mines Limited last June, acquiring its Vista coal project in Alberta. But even though the Alberta Energy Regulator has issued the final permits on the project, development is on hold for the moment. “Given depressed coal prices in Asia and the likelihood that they will remain depressed for the near future, the project is not economically viable,” said Bunn. “When prices recover, we will re-evaluate the project and the timing associated with its development.”
Credited for reviving the industry in Illinois, Cline’s company Foresight Reserves owns a number of subsidiaries that operate coal mines in that U.S. state.
Cline has also earned a reputation as a philanthropist, particularly in his home state of West Virginia. In 2011, the Cline Family Foundation donated US$5 million to West Virginia University, his alma mater. “He is a third generation coal miner with a big heart and firmly believes in giving back,” Bunn said.