Roy Mills, Mine Operator, Lake Industries, Minto

I always felt that if I didn't try mining, I would always regret it. The first strip mining took place in the Minto area about 1910. They used scrapers to do it along the Fredericton Road. The owners had heard about these steam-powered draglines that my family had working in Quebec.

So then we came here from Montreal in 1944. We actually started in Minto for the Bank of Nova Scotia which owned the Minto Coal Company. My brother Dave and I decided to stay here in Minto to develop our own coal mine. We worked as contractors and, when the Minto Coal Company was sold, we continued to work for the new owners, the Miramichi Lumber Company.

My wife's father sold the coal for us. He had a lot of connections because he was the former manager of the Minto Coal Company. We kept getting bigger and bigger. We used the old draglines from Quebec for a long time and eventually bought some new ones. We got up to 250,000 tons a year - oh yeah, we produced a lot of coal.

After we were bought out by the province in 1969,1 was retained a few years as manager of the N.B. Coal. Then I retired. We had a big family - nine children. So, after I retired, I spent the time visiting the family. But we got fed up with that so I got back into the business.

We kept the land with the tailings on it from the old mining wash plant operations. Our thought was that if the price of coal were to increase, we could develop the tailings that contained up to 40 per cent coal. There is a block of a half-million tons of tailings that we're attempting to mine, using a floating dredge and a coal-washing plant. I know more now about what I'm trying to do than I ever did before.