HALIFAX, April 02, 2020 - Morien Resources Corp. ("Morien" or the "Company") (TSXV:MOX), wishes to set the record straight and caution investors regarding misleading statements recently published by various Canadian media outlets in regard to an announcement by Kameron Collieries ULC (“Kameron”), owner of the Donkin Coal Mine (“Donkin”, or the “Mine”) in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
On Monday, March 30, 2020, Kameron announced that it has ceased production operations at the Donkin Mine due to adverse geological conditions. Since that announcement, the Canadian Press, the CBC and allNovaScotia have made pronouncements that the Mine has been closed “permanently”. Additionally, Halifax’s Chronical Herald made an initial report (since corrected) that the Donkin Mine was “for sale”.
Investors should be aware that these pronouncements are inaccurate in describing the current situation at Donkin. It is important for investors to know that none of the materials provided by Kameron nor spoken by Kameron representatives mentioned the words “permanently” or “for sale”.
State of Operations at Donkin
The description of the state of operations at Donkin does not lend itself to one or two words. Since commencing production in February 2017, there have been 12 incidences where material has fallen from the ceiling (roof) of certain sections of the tunnel operations. These occurrences are very common to underground coal mining operations. In Donkin’s case, all of the roof falls occurred in areas where the risk was already identified by Kameron, and precautionary measures had been taken. That is the reason why no one has been injured from a roof fall at Donkin. Following the last roof fall on February 13, 2020, a Kameron spokesman said – "the miners are trained to identify signs of [rock] stress. This wasn’t a sudden event. There were signs of this.”
From 2016 when the Mine development and tunnel refurbishment started, to the end of 2018, Kameron’s mine injury rate has been 75% less than the U.S. national underground coal mine injury rate, and none of those injuries were related to a roof fall. In 2018, Nova Scotia saw 5,314 Time Loss Claims across 19 sectors, with Donkin only accounting for 0.06% of those claims.
When roof falls occur, best practices have the operator (Kameron) and the provincial regulator (Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education – “NS LAE”) work jointly to assess the cause and determine the appropriate remediation procedures. This procedure has been applied before and will continue to be applied should any future events arise.
The most recent rock falls in February took place in an area where a localized zone of roof geology differed from the typical rock strata of the mine in that it was weaker. Work subsequently stopped in that area of the Mine. Following standard procedure, Kameron and NS LAE jointly commenced an assessment of this area of adverse geology with a plan to devise a remediation program for this specific zone and any other future similar occurrences.
The Donkin Mine is the first underground coal mine to operate in Nova Scotia since 2001. As such, NS LAE has been working with the outside assistance of experts from the U.S. Mining Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) to provide it with advanced expertise to properly assess any revisions to Kameron’s ground control procedures at the Mine. According to MSHA, who have toured the Mine in the past, Kameron’s previous roof control procedures at Donkin “actually exceeded industry best practices for safety.”
However, following the latest February roof falls, as a result of Covid-19 related travel restrictions, MSHA consultants have yet to be available to assess the geology in the area of the roof falls, Kameron’s ground control procedures and provide NS LAE with advice.
Mine safety is of paramount importance to all. The assessment and prospective resolution of the adverse geology at Donkin will take substantial efforts by the NS LAE, MSHA experts, Kameron and other professionals in this field.
This process will take some time as the utmost care, caution and expertise must be deployed. It would not be accurate to categorize the time to conduct these steps as short or to say that Donkin is “temporarily” suspended.
However, it is highly inaccurate to state Donkin is “permanently” closed and “for sale”. Permanent closure brings the removal of mining equipment and the sealing of the tunnels. None of that is happening at Donkin. Until such time as the analysis has been completed and decisions have been made, one cannot apply the “permanent closure” label to Donkin operations, and subsequent to Kameron’s media statement to idle the operation, it has publicly stated the Mine is “not for sale.”
Morien will provide additional information on the Donkin Mine as it becomes available.
Dawson Brisco (CEO and President) and John Budreski (Executive Chairman) would be pleased to discuss these matters with investors by way of emails or at the phone numbers listed below.
Morien is a Canadian based, dividend paying, mining development company that holds royalty interests in two tidewater accessed projects. Before going on care and maintenance, the Donkin Coal Mine commenced production in 2017 and the Black Point Aggregate Project is progressing toward a development decision. Morien’s management team exercises ruthless discipline in managing both the assets and liabilities of the Company. The Company’s management and its Board of Directors consider shareholder returns to be paramount over corporate size, number or scale of assets and industry recognition. Subsequent to Morien’s Normal Course Issuer Bid purchases in March 2020, the Company has 52,419,114 issued and outstanding common shares and a fully diluted position of 55,149,114. Further information is available at www.MorienRes.com.
Some of the statements in this news release may constitute "forward-looking information" as defined under applicable securities laws. These statements reflect Morien's current expectations of future revenues and business prospects and opportunities and are based on information currently available to Morien. Morien cautions that actual performance will be affected by a number of factors, many of which are beyond its control, and that future events and results may vary substantially from what Morien currently foresees. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include risks and uncertainties described in Morien’s annual information form filed with the Canadian Securities regulators on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) on April 26, 2016. Morien cautions that its royalty revenue will be based on production by third party property owners and operators who will be responsible for determining the manner and timing for the properties forming part of Morien’s royalty portfolio. These third party owners and operators are also subject to risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those predicted herein including: volatility in financial markets or general economic conditions; capital requirements and the need for additional financing; fluctuations in the rates of exchange for the currencies of Canada and the United States; prices for commodities including coal and aggregate; unanticipated changes in production, mineral reserves and mineral resources, metallurgical recoveries and/or exploration results; changes in regulations and unpredictable political or economic developments; loss of key personnel; labour disputes; and ineffective title to mineral claims or property. There are other business risks and hazards associated with mineral exploration, development and mining. Although Morien believes that the forward-looking information contained herein is based on reasonable assumptions (including assumptions relating to economic, market and political conditions, the Company’s working capital requirements and the accuracy of information supplied by the operators of the properties in which the Company has a royalty interest), readers cannot be assured that actual results will be consistent with such statements. Morien expressly disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information in this news release, whether as a result of new information, events or otherwise, except in accordance with applicable securities laws. All dollar values discussed herein are in Canadian dollars. Any financial outlook or future-oriented financial information in this news release, as defined by applicable securities laws, has been approved by management of Morien as of the date of this news release. Such financial outlook or future-oriented financial information is provided for the purpose of providing information about management's current expectations and plans relating to the future. Readers are cautioned that such outlook or information should not be used for purposes other than for which it is disclosed in this news release.
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
For more information, please contact:
Dawson Brisco, President & CEO
Phone: (902) 403-3149
John P.A. Budreski, Executive Chairman
Phone: (416) 930-0914